Oral Presentation – West With the Night
Beryl Markham is often referred to as a ‘pioneering aviator of pre-Africa’, well-known for her historic flight across the Atlantic. There have been many articles and books written about the pilot life of Beryl and almost all of them share the same story of her being the first female pilot to fly through the darkness across the Atlantic on an unmapped arial route. Yes that is brave!
However, the book West With the Night penned by Beryl Markham herself, creates an enigmatic image of her which possibly couldn’t be created by any other book. My special attraction towards this book was the style in which she chronicled her childhood experiences and adventures, with an immensely detailed description, almost making it seem near to phony. This set me wondering if her childhood could possibly help us reason out her unusual characters as a woman.
If I told you to imagine yourself going through your childhood pictures, I’m sure you would do it gladly and as responses I would definitely hear a lot ‘aaw’s and surprised gasps trying to believe if that is actually you and some may even end up with gleeful damp eyes. Now do you think Beryl Markham would have responded similarly at the mention of her childhood? Probably not.
Born to Charles Baldwin Clutterbuck, Beryl Markham was brought up by a single parent, her father. Abandoned by her mother at the age of 7, the only lady figures in her life were her governesses, whom she didn’t really approve of. This may have created a dark spot for women in Beryl Markham’s heart, which is probably why she suppressed her feminine features and let herself be dominated by her male side. It also explains the undying trust and respect she had in her father. Hence, it’s clearly evident that Beryl depended on her faith in men to guide her throughout.
Influenced by various cultures, tribes, languages and experiences young Markham had a very unconventional childhood. Her friends included many...