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History and Biography

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History and Biography

Fiji Journals of Baron Von Hugel, The : 1875 - 1877 edited by Jane Roth and Steven Hooper. ISBN: 982-208-000-X. Published by the Fiji Museum. Recommended retail price $29.00

Baron Anatole von Hugel (1854-1928) spent two and a half years in Fiji between 1875 and 1877. He stayed with the first Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, and made several expeditions around Fiji and into the interior of Viti Levu. The daily journals he kept at that time are not only full of historical, anthropological and ornithological information, but they also give a vivid account of the events and issues of the time. The Baron later became Curator of the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, which now houses his extensive collections, as well as those of other contemporary visitors to Fiji. Many of these objects, photographs and drawings have been used to illustrate this book.

Jane Roth lived for almost twenty years in Fiji with her husband George Kingsley Roth, who became Secretary for Fijian Affairs. She later became Honorary Keeper of the Fijian collections at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Dr. Steven Hooper is an anthropologist who lived for two and a half years in Fiji while doing fieldwork for his doctorate at the Cambridge University department of Social Anthropology. Soft cover, 479 pages, 60 black & white illustrations; 8 color plates. Published in 1990.

Fiji’s Heritage: A History of Fiji by Kim Gravelle. ISBN 9822140010. Published by Tiara Enterprises. Recommended retail price $18.

Originally published as a weekly feature in The Fiji Times in 1979, written by one of Fiji’s foremost journalists. The original name of the book “Fiji’s Times – A History of Fiji” was changed to avoid confusion with the newspaper of the same name. With chapters starting with “searching for signs of the first Fijians” and including topics such as War Canoes, Ku Klux Klan, the Fijian Weapons and Warfare, Fijians at War, the Cumming Street Fire and the Reverend Baker, this is one of the most complete editions of topics pertaining to the history of this wonderful South Pacific country. Soft cover, 246 pages. Published in 2000.

He Served: A Biography of Macu Salato by Robert C. Kiste. Recommended retail price $12.

Immediately after Fijiís independence in 1970, Salato became the first Fijian to be elected as the mayor of Suva. Afterwards, he served as Fijiís Acting High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. With subsequent appointments as the Secretary-General, South Pacific Commission, and Acting Director, Pacific Islands Development Program, Salato became the first individual to head two of the Pacificís regional organizations.

While Salato reached positions of the highest level, he was always at ease with People from all walks of life and many places. He immensely enjoyed the company of others, and his presence brightened most any occasion. In Fiji and elsewhere in the world, Salatoís many friends remember him as an empathetic man who was caring and nurturing in his relations with others. Salatoís own role model was none other than Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, and he in turn set the highest of standards for others. The many facets of Salatoís life reflected the Fiji of his time. Soft cover, 120 pages.

Indo-Fijian Experience, The edited and introduced by Subramani. ISBN 070221387X. Recommended retail price $18.00.

An anthology commemorating the centenary of Indian settlement in Fiji. It brings together for the first time a selection of creative writing of the highest standard with critical commentaries and articles giving the historical and sociological perspective of the Indo-Fijian experience.

The first Indians were brought to Fiji in 1879 as indentured laborers to work in the sugar plantations. During the hundred years since, their descendents have undergone significant cultural metamorphosis
through interaction with Fijian and western traditions, and have now become an integral part of Fiji's multi-racial population.

This volume reveals the changes that have taken place in the Fiji Indian character from a variety of viewpoints. As well as contributions from Indo Fijian poets, writers and historians, it incorporates the perceptions of indigenous Fijian and European writers.

The editor, Subramani, says: "The volume is born out of the conviction that the destiny of one race in Fiji is intricately linked with the other races. The future of Indo-Fijians will indeed have important bearings on the South Pacific as a whole."

Subramani is a senior lecturer in English at the University of South Pacific in Suva. He is the editor of Mana, a journal devoted to South Pacific literature, and has published a number of short stories and critical essays. Soft cover, 207 pages. Published in 1979.

Kirisimasi: Fijian Troops at Britain's Christmas Island Nuclear Tests edited by Salabula et al. ISBN 9829018016. Published by the Fiji Museum. Recommended retail price $24.00

This book is the story of Fiji's Christmas Island veterans. In 1957-58, Britain conducted nine atmospheric nuclear tests at Christmas Island and Malden Island in the central Pacific. Together with British and New Zealand troops, nearly 300 Fijian soldiers and sailors witnessed the development of Britain's hydrogen bomb. This book is the story of Fiji's Christmas Island veterans, in their own words, printed in English and Fijian. It tells the history of Fijians at Christmas Island and documents the lasting health and environmental effects of Britain's nuclear testing in the Pacific. Soft cover, 202 pages, 26 black & white photographs. Published in 1999.

Life in Feegee, or, Five Years Among the Cannibals by A Lady (Mary Davis Wallis). Published by the Fiji Museum. Recommended retail price $22.00.

A reprint of the first edition of 1851 in which Mary Wallis, the sea-going wife of a Yankee trading captain, recounts her experiences in Fiji from 1844 - 1849. Mary Davis Wallis, our mysterious "Lady", was married to Captain Benjamin Wallis of Salem, Massachusetts. During the 'forties and early 'fifties of last century this florid, forceful Yankee captain dominated the dangerous but lucrative Fiji-Manila trade in beche-de-mer for S. Chamberlain & Co. of Salem. He played a central role in Fiji history through his dealings with high Fijian chiefs. Fortunately for posterity, but to the wonder of his fellow trading captains and frustration of his crew, Captain Wallis took his piously eccentric wife voyaging to the Fiji's from 1844-1849. Here is Mary Wallis' lively, decidedly feminist, opinionated yet humorous account of five years wandering about the islands aboard the bark "Zotoff." During that time she saw much at first hand, and she has left her indelible mark on Fiji in the popular girl's names, Walesi and Merewalesi. Soft cover, 424 pp,1 folding map. Published in 1983.

Matanitu: The struggle for power in early Fiji by David Routledge. Recommended retail price $15.

This scholarly work, from University of the South Pacific academic David Routledge, traces Fijian history from the early days of European contact to independence. Forget the Borgias, there is more intrigue in this book than the best thriller writer could emulate. The text is interspersed with historical photos and engravings. If you are travelling to Fiji or just have an interest in South Pacific history this book should be added to your reading list. Soft cover, 247 pp.

Click here for illustration from Matanitu. (49k)

My 21 Years in the Fiji Islands; and the Story of the Haunted Line by Totaram Sanadhya. Translated and edited by John Dunham Kelly and Uttra Kumari Singh. ISBN: 982-208-003-4. Published by the Fiji Museum. recommended retail price $10.00.

Totaram Sanadhya came to Fiji as a girmtiya, or indentured laborer, in 1893. In 1914, he returned to India and together with Benarsidas Chaturvedi wrote this book, a powerful indictment of the indentured labor system and the treatment of Indians in Fiji. In India My Twenty-one Years in the Fiji Islands was immediately translated from Hindi into several other South Asian languages. It was one of the most frequently used sources of information and argument during the public movement in India that led to the abolition of Indenture in the 1910s, the movement Gandhi later called the first national satyagraha. However, until now, no English translation of it has been published.

My Twenty-one Years in the Fiji Islands provides a vivid account of the lives of Indians, indentured and free, in early Fiji: the coolie ships, the coolie lines, the struggles with overseers and law courts, the towns, the bazaars, and Indian religious rituals and festivals. An appendix to the book provides further information about people, places and events described. And this volume also includes an English translation of Totaram Sanadhya's The Story of the Haunted Line, a moving story of a man saved from fear and despair by Hindu devotion and the friendship of ethnic Fijians.

This book is a window into early Fiji as seen by the immigrants from India. It should be of interest to anyone who seeks to understand Fiji's history. Soft cover, 220 pages, 50 black & white illustrations. Published in 1991.

Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition: Volume 3 by Charles Wilkes. Reprinted in 1985 by the Fiji Museum. Recommended retail price $26.

In 1838 a special squadron of the United States navy was ordered south around the Horn into the Pacific, charged with furthering American commerce by charting hazards to her merchant shipping, and to boosting national prestige, not least through the gathering and publication of scientific knowledge.

For four years the two sloops-of-war, gun-brig, storeship and two schooners of the Exploring Expedition roamed the sea, alone or in concert, investigating islands from the Antarctic Continent in the south and Australia in the west to the shores of South and Northwest America. They visited, among other places, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati and Hawaii, before turning west and homewards by way of the Cape of Good Hope.

First published in 1845 in five extravagant, lavishly illustrated volumes, the famous Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition was compiled by the Expedition's commander, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, from the journals of his officers and scientists.

This third volume dwells mainly upon the Fijis, - that hitherto unsurveyed graveyard of Yankee whalers and Salem bêche-de-mer trading ships - to which the Expedition was directed to pay particular attention, and where it spent three tense, harrowing months from May to August of 1840. Drawn from the experiences and observations of the expedition's officers and scientific corps, from those of the beachcombing Fijian whites who served as local pilots, of veteran Yankee bêche-de-mer and tortoise-shell trading captains, and of pioneering Methodist missionaries, the book does far more than simply outline the work and adventures of the Expedition in these islands. The Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition draws a vividly detailed, quite unparalleled picture of life in pre-Christian Fiji. Soft cover, 438 pages. Reprinted in 1985.

On Fiji Soil; Memories of an Agriculturalist by Phyllis Parham Reeve. Recommended retail price $15.

Based on the journals of her father, W. L. Parham, 1918-1942, these are the memories of an agriculturalist. Parham is still renowned in Fiji for his contribution towards the development of agriculture and understanding of the soil types.

The author was born in Suva, Fiji, and grew up near Montreal, Canada. Her two previous books are also histories of places and people which matter to her. Her fatherís journals provide the theme and plot of this book and give fascinating insights into life in the Fiji of the period between 1914 and 1942. Soft cover, 253 pages.

Tovata I & II by A. C. Reid. ISBN 9822080018. Recommended retail price $12.00.

This book is divided into two sections. The Fruit of the Rewa and The Fence of Vesi explore the origins and evolutions of two Fijian States over which the Tui Lau and the Tui Cakau held sway. The author was born in Scotland August 1915 and served for thirty-three years in the South Pacific, including twenty-five years in Fiji where he was the last European to hold the post of Secretary for Fijian Affairs. He also spent eight years in Tonga on two separate missions. He retired in April 1971, settling eventually in New South Wales.114 pages, 2 color photographs. Published in 1990.

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Fiji's Past on Picture Postcards by Elsie Stephenson


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