Island ‘notables’ collected in new book

What have the mother of King Alfred, a famous sail maker, a seismology pioneer, and the vice admiral who introduced the guinea and snuff to England all got in common? The answer: they are all among 246 short biographies of ‘notables’ who appear in the latest book from Island publisher, Beachy Books.

‘Personae Vectenses: Isle of Wight Notables’ is written by Island-born, Phillip Armitage who was born and educated on the Island. He now lives in Worcester but describes himself as ‘an Islander throughand through’, It is a labour of love that took him 12 years of research.

He said: “I just kept stumbling across these names in various Isle of Wight books that I collect. And they all had connections to the Island, some famous, others I’d never heard of. I decided that there were so many names with an Isle of Wight link that it was worth putting together as a publication.”

With so many notables in Personae Vectenses, it’s hard for Phillip to choose a favourite, however one person whom Phillip particularly admires is Mary Ellis. “She did some phenomenal work during the war, flying something like 76 different types of aircraft including hundreds spitfires and umpteen heavy bombers from the factories or repair works to airfields as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary. She is truly remarkable!”

Phillip hopes Islanders will enjoy the book, and fully expects a bit of debate about who was included and who was left out. He explains his criteria for including a ‘notable’: “They had be born on the Island or have lived on the Island for a reasonable amount of time. The most significant thing is, they had to have influenced wider society.”

‘Personae Vectenses: Isle of Wight Notables’ retails at £12.99. It will be available at Island retailers including Babushka Books in Shanklin, Medina Books in Cowes, and Isle of Wight Traders and Waterstones in Newport. The book can be ordered by retailers through W J Nigh & Sons.

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning one of two copies of the book then enter our Spot Bob competition – see page 2.