Daily Archives for: May 3rd, 2021

Beryl Markham, Aviatrix, Adventurer, Author of West with the Night

Beryl Markham (October 26, 1902 – August 3, 1986) is perhaps best remembered as a pioneering aviatrix, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic nonstop from Britain to North America. She was also a racehorse trainer and had torrid love affairs and tepid marriages, all of which she recounted in her famed  1942 memoir, West with the Night.

Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she seemed at first destined to lead the kind of life described in old English novels – an uneventful childhood in a grand country house; schooling in literature, language, and sewing by a Jane Eyre-like governess; attending swish parties and tea dances until the day a handsome man from a fine family proposes, and that would be that. Then, having babies, supervising the staff, gardening, and fox hunting for the rest of her life.

But Fate had other ideas. Beryl spent her childhood in Kenya, and grew up to breed champion racehorses and pilot planes. Encouraged by Antoine de Saint Exupery, she wrote what would become a classic memoir about Africa, West with the Night. This book, Ernest Hemingway opined, was so good it made him feel ashamed because “she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers.” As is well known, Hemingway was rarely complimentary towards fellow writers. Read More→

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