James Ene Henshaw was born on August 29, 1924 in Calabar, Nigeria. He attended the missionary schools, Sacred Heart School, Calabar and Christ the King College, Onitsha before going on to read medicine at the National University of Ireland, Dublin and the University of Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom where he qualified a chest physician.
Back in Nigeria he went on to an illustrious career in medicine serving as Senior Consultant-in-charge, Tuberculosis Control, Eastern Nigeria (1955-68), and finally as Director of Medical Services in the former South Eastern State of Nigeria. He served in various professional and public service positions and earned several honours including Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and Knight of the Order of St. Gregory (KSG) by his Holiness Pope Paul V1.
Henshaw, in his words, “strayed into writing”. His first play, This is Our Chance, was written for the convocation of the Association of Students of African Descent in Dublin in 1948. It has since gone on to become one of the most popular works by an African writer with several reprints, and staged by professional companies as well as school and amateur groups across the continent.
A prolific writer, he went on to write some more memorable plays including Children of the Goddess, Medicine for Love; Dinner for Promotion, and many scholarly articles in national and international journals.
In his later years, he lived quietly in his home town Calabar, receiving writers, scholars and young student dramatists from around the world.
Henshaw died on 16th August 2007, while working on his last project, translating Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar into his native Efik language.