Whenever visiting a new destination for the first time, it pays to read a good mixture of historic and newer titles before you go. In the case of Mallorca, there are a fair few fascinating tomes to whet the appetite, particularly those written during the early 20th century. It was a time of authenticity, simplicity – and poverty – in Mallorca and yet also great economic evolution.
In the 1900’s there were such pearls as L’illa de la calma by modernist Catalan artist, Santiago Rusiñol and colossal works that included Die Balearen by Archduke Ludwig Salvator who set up home near Valldemossa in the northwest of the island and restored several rural estates. In the early 20th century travel writers included Margaret D’Este who wrote With a Camera in Majorca, offering a refreshing snapshot of the times.In the 1900’s there were such pearls as L’illa de la calma by modernist Catalan artist, Santiago Rusiñol and colossal works that included Die Balearen by Archduke Ludwig Salvator who set up home near Valldemossa in the northwest of the island and restored several rural estates. In the early 20th century travel writers included Margaret D’Este who wrote With a Camera in Majorca, offering a refreshing snapshot of the times.
The likes of Getrude Stein and Robert Graves fell for the charms of the golden isle and came to pay homage. Of course Graves loved it so much that he set up home at Can Alluny just beyond Deia village in the Soller valley. He wrote many of his works and poetry here including Majorca Observed, a delightful book of anecdotes with superb illustrations. A swag bag of writers followed in his wake, drawn to the beauty of the Soller valley in particular. Talented authors, Mary Stuart Boyd with her Fortunate Isles and Lady Sheppard’s A Cottage in Mallorca, penned in 1936 and set in Fornalutx village, brought colour and character to locals and landscape.
A particularly comic and endearing account of island life was given by Gordon West in his 1920’s tome, Jogging round Mallorca which offers cameos such as how it felt to travel by carriage around the untamed rocky tracks and also gives a fascinating insight into the solitary and tough lives of charcoal burners living in the Tramuntana mountains.
In current times, aside from Anna Nicholas’s series of books, there are those written by both William and Tomas Graves, the sons of Robert Graves. They are, respectively, Wild Olives and Tuning up at Dawn. A light hearted comic series was created by Peter Kerr, commencing with Snowball Oranges. After many years in Mallorca, Peter and his wife returned to their native Scotland where he continues to write books in various genres.
And finally a word for Witches, Oranges and Slingers, written by Elena Davis. This autobiographical work was completed when the author was in her nineties. It records her trajectory on the island from her arrival in the fifties. Elena died peacefully at 101, perhaps proving that the good life in rural Mallorca definitely has its benefits!
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