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Beryl Markham Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

West with the Night (1942)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Splendid Outcast (1987)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Children's Books

The Good Lion (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Beryl Markham is a biography and memoir author who moved with her father to Kenya when she was four. Her father had a racehorse farm in Njoro and Beryl would spend much of her childhood hunting, learning and playing with the local kids.

Markham grew into a feral and impossibly wild teenager. Unable to deal with what he deemed an improper outset of teenage femininity, her father banished her to a beautiful garden in the garden.

Her father would ultimately go broke and leave for Peru, leaving the seventeen year old to earn her own living as an up and coming race horse trainer. She was an erudite, adventurous, independent thinking, beautiful girl not afraid of the African wild who could speak several African languages, ride a horse, track, shoot and service.

Of course most young men that ventured into Africa to test their own machismo and mettle would fall in love with the wild Markham who embodied the strength and ideal character they wanted to build in themselves.

During this time she developed a reputation as a non conformist even in a country known for harboring some of the most colorful colonial accentrics.

Coached and inspired by Tom Campbell Black, a British aviator, Beryl spent the 1930s learning to fly. She would then become a bush pilot that would deliver mail and spot game animals from the sky after which she would signal their locations to safari groups on the ground.

Soon after, she befriended Karen Blixen the Danish writer. The latter was then in charge of her family’s coffee firm just outside Nairobi at a place named the Ngong Hills.

When Blixen ended her love affair with Denys Finch Hatton the pilot and hunter, Markham slid into his life. But it would turn out to be a short lived romance as the man died touring game lands on a flight Beryl had declined an invitation to due to a premonition.

Always looking for new adventures and challenges, Beryl decided to undertake a dangerous non stop solo flight from west to east across the Atlantic. Several aviators had lost their lives in the endeavor before Markham but she was determined to do it.

Despite impossible odds, Beryl lifted off from Abingdon in England and crash landed on an island in Nova Scotia, Canada. In this endeavor, she made history as the first person to fly from the UK to North America cementing her name as a pioneer in aviation.

Beryl Markham wrote about her many adventures in “West with the Night,” a memoir published in 1942. While the work garnered critical acclaim in the press, it would never become a bestseller and soon after was out of print.

After living in the United States for several years, Beryl moved back to Kenya which she had always deemed her true home. For a time, she would make a name for herself as the best horse trainer in the country.

Her horses would be six time winners of the Kenya Derby even as she lived a simple life spending all her earnings on gin and horses. Things took a turn for the better when someone read Ernest Hemmingway’s comments about “West With the Night,” the memoir that Beryl published in 1942.

According to the letter, Hemingway thought Markham wrote so well that she put such an accomplished writer as himself to shame. Her debut work was republished in 1983 and an Associated Press journalist tracked her down in Nairobi.

By this time she was an impoverished and elderly woman but the sales and publicity she received from the re-release would give her a comfortable lifestyle until her death in 1986 aged 83.

“West with the Night” the seminal work by Beryl Markham is a classic memoir of adventure, aviation and Africa. It inspired “Circling the Sun” by Paula McLain which Ernest Hemingway called “a bloody wonderful book.” It is a true epic story as she went on to break barriers and set records as a pilot.

She got into torrid love affairs, shattered societal expectations and survived some horrific crash landings all of which she chronicled. A contemporary of “Out of Africa” novelist Karen Blixen, Markham wrote what has been described as an enduring memoir that is full of shimmering insights and astounding candor.
The British born author writes of how she was a rebel from when she was very young. She spent much of her childhood in the farmlands of Kenya’s Rift Valley. During this time, she trained to become a pilot when most of the people she had grown up with had never been inside or even seen an airplane.

In 1936, she made the decision to undertake the ultimate challenge: fly solo across the Atlantic from England to North America. It was a feat that Amelia Earhard had managed a few years before. In this memoir, Markham’s failures and successes and her lifelong and deep love of Aafrica are told with agile wit and wrenching honesty.

Beryl Markham’s “The Splendid Outcast” is a great book though one mired in a lot of controversy concerning its authorship. Still, the collection of stories are interesting and very enjoyable despite the ongoing discussion on who is the true author.

Each story in the collection has connections to the events, life and times of Beryl Markham either as a world traveler, horse trainer or pilot. Some of the stories, particularly any with a happy ending seem to have been written for the 1940 style women magazines.

Still, they all have fascinating details about horsemanship and the soul of Africa. This is something of an “Out of Africa” distilled into several stories. It tells of a strong woman that makes a name for herself in the wild lands of Africa during the colonial period.

Sprinkled all through the stories are romantic entanglements that spice things up. She writes a lot like Karen Blixen but readers will find her more charming and spunkier than the “Out of Africa” writer.

“The Good Lion” by Beryl Markham is a true story by one of the most thrilling authors chronicling the wild lands African experience. Beryl makes friends with Paddy, a tame lion, as they go on a quest to challenge long standing notions of forgiveness and punishment, duplicity and trust, docile and wild.

Combined with the expressive watercolours by Don Brown, the novel tells a powerful tale that will leave readers wondering about the true nature of beast and man.
It provides interesting insights on animals in captivity as Markham relives her childhood where she was attacked by a pet lion. In this she asserts that no wild animals could ever really be tame regardless of how it may look.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Beryl Markham

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