David Ransom is an amateur historian with specialist interests which have drawn him towards fascinating sources. These two books reveal a diary and the letters of people who were alive in interesting times.
Notes on Voyage is the diary of John Lynn and his family as they travel to Australia in 1911 to start a new life. David Ransom has put the diary in its historical context and gives us information about the Lynn family, but it is John Lynn’s voice who speaks to us through his adventure.
The long voyage round South Africa, not stopping until they first reached Australia, must have been very wearing. I have made this voyage myself, but with stops en route to relieve the monotony. But the passengers and crew came up with many ideas to occupy themselves such as chess, music and football. They watched flying fish and battleships and on the hottest nights slept on deck or indulged in pillow fights. They endured a frightening hurricane and a mutiny by some of the crew.
This book is an opportunity to share the experiences of a hopeful and likeable family as they bravely set out over a hundred years ago.
Zeppelin Letters takes us to the Home Front during World War One, as we share the experiences of Londoners of the time, through the letters they wrote. We read of the horror and fear when the Zeppelins, and later planes, came to bomb the city and gain understanding of the difficulties people had, finding food and going about their everyday lives. I was surprised to discover how much disruptive and fatal bombing there was during a war when there were no air-raid shelters.
The letter writers were Maud Norris, George Vernon Hatch and Irene Magraw. Maud wrote to her brother, who was in New Zealand; George Hatch worked in an office during the day and volunteered at a searchlight station for the Civil Defence; Irene, who was married to a clergyman, wrote chatty letters to her mother.
Irene’s letters, including details about her little dog, Smut, and baby Betty are the liveliest to read, but the combination of different viewpoints alongside official reports give a vivid picture of the dramatic events from 1915 to 1917. This is a must read for anyone interested in social history and particularly of wartime London. I very much enjoyed it.
Notes on Voyage can be found here and Zeppelin Letters is also available at Amazon UK
David Ransom was born in Brighton, UK. He served an apprenticeship as a compositor in the days of hot metal printing, trained as a Monotype keyboard operator, and eventually moved on to Apple computers and magazine design.
He has always had a fascination with history and has a varied collection of miscellaneous items related to Pitcairn Island, the New Zealand Shipping Company, and the history of photography. Occasionally some of these areas come together, and it is as a result of these fortunate links that he aims to produce books for the Kindle.
His next book will cover the New Zealand Shipping Company’s “Remuera” and its connection with Pitcairn Island.
One thought on “Primary Sources from the 20th century: Reviews of “Notes on Voyage” and “Zeppelin Letters” by David Ransom”
Both of these books sound very interesting. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
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