Prior to Christmas last year I decided to order several books about Tristan da Cunha. These were titles that I had known about for years yet never did anything about. I left some of them in my shopping cart, unpurchased. With my expenses reduced since I was not hosting a houseful of people over the holidays I decided finally to get them. Why wait any longer? So over the months of January and February individual packages would arrive at my door and while I knew that it was a Tristan book, what I didn’t know was which one. These are my latest Tristan da Cunha book purchases, from the oldest publication date to the newest:
Tristan da Cunha 1506-1902 by J. Brander was written in 1940 and thus two decades before the volcano eruption and evacuation, when a flurry of books suddenly appeared about the island. In spite of the book’s title the final chapter was called “Tristan da Cunha 1902-1939”. Glossy black-and-white illustrations were included, as well as a foldout map of the Tristan archipelago plus a full census taken in 1875, thus prior to the shipwrecked arrival of Andrea Repetto and Gaetano Lavarello (in 1892).
Rock of Exile: A Narrative of Tristan da Cunha by D. M. Booy was written in 1957, just four years prior to the eruption yet after the visit by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. I have seen many editions of this book for sale and wanted a crisp, unfrayed and vibrant dust jacket. Fifteen pages of photos accompany thirty chapters which deal with island life at that time.
The Glass Island: The Story of Tristan da Cunha by Nancy Hosegood was published in 1964 and depicts the volcano eruption on its cover. The slightest of the three books at 192 pages, it devotes its first half to island history “Before the Volcano” yet from page 103 on to chapters entitled “The Volcano” and “After the Volcano”. Black-and-white photos are included.
The following two books are later imprints which deal with British overseas possessions. The first is The Teatime Islands: Journeys to Britain’s Faraway Outposts by Ben Fogle from 2003. I have an autographed edition:
Fogle was like Simon Winchester in his own travel account Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire, yet limited his travels to overseas islands only: Tristan da Cunha, BIOT, St. Helena, Falkland Islands, Pitcairn Island and Ascension. His generous colour photos showed many Tristanians whom I now know as friends.
On my second visit to Tristan in 2017 I found Cycling Across the South Atlantic: An Oceanic Odyssey with a Bicycle by Simon Levell (2016) in the museum, which is part of the island’s Tourism Centre. There were no copies for sale:
I took note of the publication information inside and wrote to the publisher, but didn’t hear back. While I was managing my E-mailbox last year I discovered my three-year-old correspondence and wrote to the publisher again. This time I received a reply which put me in touch with the author himself. Simon Levell autographed his book of biking tales across the South Atlantic.