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LADY BARNARDíS DIARIES (article first published : 2006-09-5)

Recently launched in Durban by Adams Bookstores is Paradise, the Castle and the Vineyard: Lady Anne Barnardís Cape Diaries which is edited by Professor Margaret Lenta.

Lady Anne Barnard lived in South Africa from 1797 to 1802, and she recorded life in the Cape and its hinterland with more interest and detail than any other writer of the period. Paradise, the Castle and the Vineyard is an edition of her diaries, abridged and fascinatingly annotated by Margaret Lenta. It is beautifully illustrated with her own drawings, paintings and handwriting as well as pictures of the landmark homes in which she resided.

The diaries are full of witty and insightful observations about the life and people of the Cape, including the plight of slaves (usually censored out of writings from the era) and the governor and his quarrelsome household. Lady Anne also frankly describes her own life, including her happy marriage to a man 12 years her junior, and the political upheavals, shipwrecks and travels into rural areas. A generous introduction situates the diary in its historical and social context.

Margaret Lenta is emeritus professor and senior researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has published widely in the area of women's writing. She spent three months typing from the original handwritten diaries, which are archived in Scotland to produce a complete edition of the diaries which has been published already.

Paradise, the Castle and the Vineyard: Lady Anne Barnardís Cape Diaries is published by Wits University Press and is available at Adams bookstores Ė Durban central, Musgrave and UKZN campus.




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