You are currently viewing Book launch: Denise Johnstone publishes “Victorian Seychelles: 1839-1902”

Book launch: Denise Johnstone publishes “Victorian Seychelles: 1839-1902”

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Johnstone said the book has been a long time in the making as a lot of research had to be carried out. (Seychelles Nation) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) – With an interest in the social history of Seychelles, former local journalist Denise Johnstone has published a book with over 220 images of the island nation taken between 1839 and 1902.

Titled “Victorian Seychelles:1839-1902″, the book is based on contemporary accounts and images of the period. It gives a glimpse into life during a period of social history that almost matches the time span of Queen Victoria’s reign over England and her colonies, including Seychelles.

The introduction of the book outlines that 1839 “was the year, when former slaves, nine-tenths of the colonies’ population, were granted unconditional freedom and ends in 1902, the year of the coronation of the victorious successor Edward VII.”

During the launch of the book on Friday, Johnstone said the book has been a long time in the making as a lot of research had to be carried out. 

“I managed to put together a collection of more than 220 photos. People in Seychelles gave me some, while others came from the archive of Reunion. Some came from the U.S., France, England, New Zealand, and Australia,” said Johnstone.

She recalls that her interest in social history started in her teens when she would do intensive family history research at the National Archive. She also shared that she always wanted to write a book, illustrated by old photos of Seychelles.

Talking about her favourite image in the book, Johnstone said it is a sketch by an Australian artist – Gordon McGrae – who came to Seychelles in 1887. The picture, called “La Bas” (Over There), shows Anse Pasquiere, Praslin. 

“It is a drawing that represents everything about the time and the culture,” said Johnstone.

In the centre of the drawing is Police Corporal Vital Volcere surveying the scene at Anse Pasquiere. One can see in the sketch, the living quarters of Volcere as well as the police station at the time. Also, there is cooking taking place outdoors, a chicken on the loose as well as women in their traditional outfits gossiping.

This is the third book published by Johnstone.

The printing of “Victorian Seychelles” was sponsored by the National Arts and Culture Fund of the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SNICHA).

At the book launch, the SNICHA secretary general, David Andre, said that the fund is available to artists or people in general who have a project that deals with art and culture.

“We want to encourage people to work on interesting projects that are in line with our philosophy – ‘guardian of our heritage,” said Andre. 



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