Marianne in My Home - Singapore
Extracts from the interview with Aggie, participating in the Marianne in My Home project. Read and listen to what she thinks about Marianne North’s recollections of Singapore.
"My name is Aggie, I’m from Singapore. I grew up in Singapore, I was born in the sixties and I only arrived in the UK about five years ago.
Looking at her notes (Recollections of a Happy Life), it really surprises me because it gives a very relaxed atmosphere. It talks about how green the country is. It talks about how the houses are quite individual, in the little hill of its own and it is a two storey building and you can see out to the sea and there are plantations which you can’t find in Singapore anymore…
I don’t feel like she is talking about Singapore. I feel like she is talking about Malaysia or Thailand or Indonesia or Bali which is very, very different…
Reading Marianne North’s memoirs about Singapore probe me now to want to go to a bookstore and look for books about Singapore that are from way back in the fifties, sixties or even during the colonial time or during the time when Singapore is more known as a small fishing village…"
Marianne North on Singapore
Extracts from Recollections of a Happy Life by Marianne North. Memories of travel to Singapore.
"Two more days brought us to Singapore, where I landed on the 19th of January 1876.
Mrs. S., the banker’s wife and her father, Major MacN., came to see me. The former insisted on my moving at once to her comfortable house outside the town. Like all the houses of Singapore, it stood on its own little hill, none of these hills being more then two hundred feet above the sea; but they were just high enough to catch the sea-breezes at night, and one could sleep with perfect comfort, though only three degrees from the equator.
View of Singapore from Dr Little's garden (painting by Marianne North)
This house belonged to the House of Guthrie for two generations, and was surrounded by every sort of fruit-tree. Of these there were perhaps more in Singapore than in the rest of the world. The lovely Mangosteen was just becoming ripe, and the great Durian, which I soon learnt to like, under the teaching of the pretty little English children, who called it “Darling Durian..."
One day we drove out to have a luncheon with the Doctor and his family, who had a country house about five miles off, near the coast, in the midst of plantations of cocoanuts… All the tribe of Jamboa fruits (magnified myrtles), too, were magnificent in their colours. There were said to be three hundred varieties of them. Some of them had lovely rose-coloured and pink young leaves a shoots.
The nyum-nyum was another curious fruit coming out of the trunk and branches like the blimbing with tiny red flowers and pink young leaves which looked like blossom in the distance. That cocoa-nut plantation was a most enjoyable place…
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