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Sealed and Delivered was first published in 1942. In a way, it is a sequel to Caesar in Abyssinia (also reissued in Faber Finds) which covered the Italian invasion of Ethiopia up to May 1936 when the capital, Addis Ababa was occupied. Sealed and Delivered continues the story until the expulsion of the Italians in 1941 and beyond. Richard Pankhurst, in his introduction, writes, ‘Ethiopia’s history, as Steer saw it, did not however end there, with victory over Italy. When the fighting died down, the first country to e freed in WW2 still faced major problems. Those resulting from the erstwhile invasion included, he said, a still partially operative colour-bar, the complex question of ex-enemy property – and the country’s status vis-a-vis Great Britain, its liberator and ally, whose forces ended up occupying the country. Steer believed that Ethiopia itself would solve these problems, and that its independence, soon to be sealed by international treaty, was delivered to its rightful rulers: the Ethiopian people: Sealed and Delivered.’
Both Caesar in Abyssinia and Sealed and Delivered are quite largely autobiographical. That gives them their strength. For Steer writing about Ethiopia was much more than a journalistic assignment, he was a friend of the Emperor’s and a partisan for his country. As Nick Rankin has observed, ‘the mild Christianity that he inherited from them (his parents) seems to have given him sympathy for the underdog as well as inoculation against totalitarianism.’
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