Travellers… book launched in Kazakh version

I am delighted to report that a Kazakh-language edition of my book Travellers in the Great Steppe: from the Papal Envoys to the Russian Revolution, was launched today at the Palace of Languages in Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan.

The book has been translated into Kazakh under a programme known as 100 New Text Books, under which 100 important foreign language books are being translated by the national translation bureau. Also translated and launched today was Thomas, Lucy and Alatau: the Atkinsons’ Adventures in Siberia and the Kazakh Steppe by John Massey-Stewart, which was published in 2018.

The meeting heard from Deputy Akim of the Almaty Region, Batyrzhan Baizhumanov, who stressed the importance of the books for Kazakhs who wanted to learn about their history. Head of the Department of Internal Politics of the Almaty Region Rakhmet Yesdauletov also spoke and the Kazakh ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, H E Erlan Idrissov sent a pre-recorded message of congratulations.

The launch meeting in Taldykorgan in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan

Taldykorgan was chosen for the launch meeting because it is the closest city to Kapal, the village in the east of the country, where Thomas and Lucy Atkinson spent nine months in 1848-9 and where their son Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson was born in November 1848.

In Kazakh, my book is titled Ұлы дала саяхатшылары: Папа елшілерінен бастап Ресей революциясына дейін, or Ūly dala saiahatşylary: Papa elşılerınen bastap Resei revolüsiasyna deiın in latin script.

Alatau’s Christmas carol to be performed in Somerset

One hundred and twenty-five years after he wrote the words, a beautiful Christmas carol written by Alatau Atkinson in Hawai’i is to be performed in a Somerset church. The world premiere of Christmas Bells will take place at St Bartholomew’s Church in Crewkerne, Somerset on 11th December. It has been set to music by composer Michael Csanyi-Wills and the service will also include a performance by Kazakh folk duo Qos Arna in tribute to Alatau’s place of birth.

Christmas Bells in Crewkerne

Tickets for the event, priced at £14, are available from Eventbrite or from ‘Grand Interiors’ in Crewkerne.

Family life and a Royal in Hawai’i

Paul Dahlquist, gg grandson of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson, has recently come across some photographs taken in Hawai’i by his ancestors. As some of you will know, Thomas and Lucy’s son Alatau Atkinson migrated to Hawai’i in 1869, where he was variously a teacher, a newspaper editor and organiser of the territory’s first census.

The first photo, taken in the garden of Alatau’s house in Honolulu around the turn of the century, shows Alatau, together with his wife Annie and children. All seven children are present. ALC ‘Jack’ Atkinson is standing at the left of the picture, together with Zoe, Alatau’s eldest child. He seems to be holding a scroll in his hands, so perhaps this picture was taken shortly after his graduation from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1898.

Alatau Atkinson and family at home in Honolulu

The second and third photos both feature Edward, Prince of Wales – later King Edward VIII – during his visit to the islands in April 1920. I have published pictures from this visit before, but these are new pictures. The first shows the Prince sitting in an outrigger canoe and surrounded by a group of admirers:

The second shows the same outrigger canoe, with the prince sitting in the stern as they race towards the beach at Waikiki, with Diamond Head in the background. Fantastic pics!