Tales of the Isle of Wight
A Novel Guide Book
Hampshire, with the Isle of Wight, by Arthur Mee, Hodder & Stoughton, 10/6
Perhaps it would be unfair to Mr. Arthur Mee to suggest lack of care in collating his facts, but eager as a gossip for a story, he allows no shred, legend or tradition to escape his copious columns. That is the secret of his amazing popularity.
This new book is the 26th of the “King’s England” series, which, in the last six years, has embraced the whole land.
No secluded corner of this country is too small or remote for his notice, and never a hamlet is passed without some delightful reminiscence. Indeed, as interesting a tale can be made out of Binstead as Ryde.
A little description interwoven with the past is the general style adopted. Coming to Ryde, Mr. Mee finds no incongruity in reminding us that it was Mr. Sadler of the York Hotel who entertained unwittingly the Empress Eugenie, only to get lost in an entrancing account of that lady’s flight from the Louvre.
Arbitrarily, Mr. Mee grandly ignores the various explanations of the Royal George catastrophe with the denunciation: “She sank because she was rotten.”
With this book, the traveller may never stand by old stones, walk through pleasant meadows without some story to knit into a picture. The resident will find a fund of knowledge which so long has lain undiscovered at his doorstep.
The whole approach to the Island is that of a happy soul who has time to stop and potter among the things of lost times, yet modernistic enough to appreciate the change that years have brought. A romantic glow surrounds it all.
This book is for the happy voyager.
Arthur Henry Mee (1875 – 1943) was an English writer, journalist and educator, best known for The Harmsworth Self-Educator, The Children’s Encyclopedia, The Children’s Newspaper, and The King’s England. Mee’s works continued to be published after his death. Volumes of The King’s England, a guide to the counties of England, were very successful abroad.
Sources: Isle of Wight Times 12 October 1939 & Wikipedia; picture source: Sinking of the Royal George (1782), from Wikipedia