Notes from a fascinating world.
The world is like a bazaar, full of interesting odds and ends, and I've been exiled into it. This is my all-over-the-map (literally and metaphorically) attempt at capturing some of the world's many wonders.
A Johnny Depp pirate allusion for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
The story of the Kingdom of Redonda begins in 1865, when, so the story goes, a Methodist preacher named Matthew Dowdy Shiell claimed the island as his own. Shiell was from Montserrat in the British West Indies, and he supposedly applied to the British Colonial Office for permission to lay claim to Redonda. Alternatively, simply no nation had thought of claiming it until Shiell did.
Shiell laid his claim upon the occasion of the birth of his son, Matthew Phipps Shiell. Naturally enough, the son succeeded his father to the throne (such as it was), in 1880, with a bishop from Antigua performing the coronation ceremony.
Shiell Jr. subsequently became the writer M.P. Shiel (dropping one “L”), author of sci-fi and fantasy novels. Writing fantasy didn’t help his credibility in claiming that he was also a king, “Felipe I.” And perhaps Shiel’s best work, “The Purple Cloud,” was an early example of post-apocalyptic fiction featuring a “last man on earth” protagonist — an appropriate theme for the king of an uninhabited island. Stephen King has cited the book as an inspiration for “The Stand.”
From Shiel through Marias, Redonda’s scribe-kings have made many other great writers and artists peers of the realm, including Dylan Thomas, Henry Miller, Pedro Almodóvar, Francis Ford Coppola, A.S. Byatt, Alice Munro, Umberto Eco, Ray Bradbury, and J.M. Coetzee.
A kingdom of great writers — what wouldn’t I do to visit such a place? Of course the physical Redonda is no more than a mile-long barren rock. And politically it is now part of Antigua and Barbuda. But the idea of it, the idea of it... how lovely.
Writer, traveler, lawyer, dilettante. Failed student of physics. Not altogether distinguished graduate of two Ivy League institutions. Immigrant twice over. "The grand tour is just the inspired man's way of getting home."