One of the highlights of last week’s Dominica Literary Festival was a reading from Elma Napier’s memoir Black and White Sands, recently published by Papillote Press, by three generations of her family. Selections from the book were read by her daughter Patricia Honychuch, her grandson Lennox Honychurch, and her great-grand-daughter Petrea (pictured above).
Elma Napier (1892-1973) was born in Scotland but spent most of her life in Dominica, having settled with her family at Calibishie in 1932. In addition to the newly published Black and White Sands, a memoir recently discovered by her daughter Patricia, she is the author of two autobiographies (Youth is a Blunder and Winter in July) and of two novels (Duet in Discord and Flying Fish Whispered). In 1940 she became the first woman to be elected to any Caribbean legislature and served as representative for the North Eastern District for some ten years.
Napier’s legacy in Dominica continues through her family. Her daughter Patricia is a true fountain of information on the island (as I discovered when I was writing my biography of Phyllis Allfrey). Lennox, the island’s historian and true renaissance man, is a writer, painter, environmentalist, and anthropologist. Petrea has just returned to the island after receiving her degree in landscape architecture in the United States.
My thanks to Polly Pattullo for the photograph.