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Records Of The Somerville Family Of Castlehaven And Drishane From 1174, To 1940

Cork: Guy & Co., 1940

Large 8vo, pp. 134. Original blue three-quarter boards, lettered in back to front panel and black to white to spine. Offsetting to endpapers, boards a little faded, but a very well preserved copy.

First edition. One of 200 copies. SIGNED BY EDITH SOMERVILLE, AND ADDITIONALLY INSCRIBED TO HER NIECE: 'To K. with love from D. Christmas 1940.' 'D' was the family diminuitive for Edith. The recipient was Katharine Johnston (née Coghill).

Somerville and her usual writing partner, her cousin Violet Martin ('Martin Ross') wrote the Irish R.M. stories together. Violet died in 1915, but Edith, firm believer in the afterlife and a regular attender of seances, used the 'Somerville and Ross' authorial description for the rest of her career.

Edith's brother Boyce Townshend Somerville [1863-1936] was a distinguished naval officer, retiring in 1919 having attained the rank of Vice-Admiral, and an eminent hydrographic surveyor who mapped the Persian Gulf, the waters of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and much of the British coastline. His published books include dictionaries of Pacific languages encountered during his naval career, as well as works of naval history such as The Chartmakers (1928) and this, penultimate work. His last book was Will Mariner (1934) all but finished at the time of his murder by the IRA for providing references for local boys looking to join the navy, an act which was instrumental in bringing about the IRA's proscription three months later. After her brother's death Edith prepared the book for publication: it duly appeared later the same year.

Boyle is here credited with co-authorship, despite having been killed six years before the book's publication. In an explanatory note, Edith writes: 'I undertake this family explanation in remembrance of my brother Boyle, whose great wish it was that all that was known of our Family History should be recorded.' (Why this results in an author's credit rather than a dedication is unclear.)

Laid in to the book is a handwritten portion of the Somerville family tree, written on the stationery of Dishane House, Edith's home in County Cork.

A wonderful family association.


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