Beryl Markham - Authorship Controversy

Authorship Controversy

Questions were raised over time as to whether Markham was the real, or sole, author of West with the Night, not least because Markham never repeated her accomplishment with a second book of similar length, scope or beauty. The writing style has been linked with various writings by a contemporary writer of the time, Thomas Baker, who was also rumored to be her lover. Her publishing accomplishments for the rest of her life were limited to a handful of short stories.

According to the 1993 biography, The Lives of Beryl Markham, by Errol Trzebinski, the book's real author was her third husband, the ghost writer and journalist Raoul Schumacher. Trzebinski also claimed that Beryl Markham had an advance from Houghton Mifflin to do a book on the famous international jockey Tod Sloan, which Raoul Schumacher was supposed to write. Apparently Schumacher never did, and she was forced to go it alone, resulting in a manuscript submission that the publisher rejected as worthless, and not from the same person who had written West with the Night. Trzebinski had earlier taken the opposite view when interviewed by Shlachter for the PBS documentary, insisting on camera that only a woman could have written the memoir.

In her biography of Markham, Straight On Till Morning, author Mary S. Lovell, who visited Markham in Nairobi and interviewed her extensively shortly before Markham's death, disputes the claim that Schumacher made substantive contributions to West with the Night. From her research, Lovell concluded that Markham was the sole author, although Schumacher did edit the manuscript; instead, Lovell credits Antoine de Saint Exupéry, another of Markham's lovers, with being the inspiration behind Markham's clear, elegant language and storytelling style.

The International Astronomical Union has named the impact crater Markham on the planet Venus after her.

Read more about this topic:  Beryl Markham

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