Suggested Reading and Films
Island Life and Travel
Barritt, Fred and Smith, Peter. Bermewjan Vurds: A Dictionary of Conversational Bermudian. Bermuda: Lizard Press, seventh edition, 2005. Hilarious collection of amazing-but-true local idiom and slang, updated periodically.
Berg, Daniel and Denise. Bermuda Shipwrecks: A Vacationing Diver’s Guide to Bermuda’s Shipwrecks. East Rockway, New York: Aqua Explorers Inc., 1991. An A-to-Z rundown of legendary wrecks discovered off Bermuda, with a brief history, plus photos of wreck sites, artifacts, and the divers who found them.
Caswell, Tracey. Tea With Tracey: The Woman’s Survival Guide to Bermuda. Bermuda: Print Link, 1994. A cockroaches-and-all view of Bermuda by a resident expat whose introduction to island life is a highly entertaining read for anyone interested in what it’s really like to live in a so-called paradise.
Emery, Llewellyn. Nothin’ But a Pond Dog. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 1996, reprinted 1999. Businessman, cedar craftsman, and author Emery paints both a humorous and poignant portrait of back o’ town life as a child in the 1950s.
Richardson, Ralph. The Bermuda Boater. Second edition. Bermuda: Pyro Press, 2004. Written by a seasoned Bermudian navigator and boating enthusiast, this edition is an extremely useful resource for yachties and commercial or recreational boaters in Bermuda. Complete with navigation and safety basics, local chart references, and island knowledge on weather, tides, emergency resources, and other tips.
Smith, Molly. Discovering Bermuda with Paintbrush and Bike. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 2005. An island tour through the eyes of Bermudian watercolorist Smith, whose sketches, paintings, and observations along the way—including recipes, herbal remedies, and poems—paint a rich portrait of a whimsical island.
Watlington, Frank. Bermuda Kites: How to Make and Fly Them. Reprint. Bermuda, 1960. A 101 primer on tried-and-true methods to create the colorful tissue-paper concoctions that grace island skies over the Easter weekend. Easy-to-follow diagrams describe basic designs, papering, and looping tricks that have become a beloved Bermudian tradition.
History and Folklore
Bermuda’s Architectural Heritage Series. Devonshire, St. George’s, Sandys, Hamilton Parish, Smith’s. Bermuda: Bermuda National Trust, 1995–2005. In-depth parish histories researched and written by local historians, full of photos and illustrations.
Bernhard, Virginia. Slaves and Slaveholders in Bermuda, 1616–1782. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1999. Historical analysis of the complex relationship between slavery and racism in the second-oldest colony of the New World.
Cox, John. Bermuda’s Favourite Haunts. Bermuda: John Cox, 1991. Spooky chronicle of haunted houses around the island and the ghosts that inhabit them.
Deichmann, Catherine Lynch. Rogues & Runners: Bermuda and the American Civil War. Bermuda: Bermuda National Trust, 2003. Companion booklet to the fascinating exhibit in the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the old Globe Hotel building in St. George’s.
Grearson, Don. USS Bermuda: The Rise and Fall of an American Base. Bermuda: Great Dog Publishing, 2009. An inside look at the controversial 1995 closure of the U.S. military bases in Bermuda and the local and international politicking that followed.
Harris, Edward Cecil. Bermuda Forts: 1612–1957. Bermuda: Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, 1997. Written by Edward Cecil Harris, who is an archaeologist, historian, and the director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum, this comprehensive overview of the island’s chain of fortifications, detailing their history and archaeology, is especially topical now that the local government plans to restore many of these decaying landmarks as cultural attractions.
Jones, Rosemary. Bermuda: Five Centuries. Bermuda: Panatel VDS Ltd., 2004. Full-color, reader-friendly history of the island from its discovery in 1505 to the 21st century. A companion to a DVD series by the same name, the book contains timelines, contemporary accounts, and more than 360 historic images from private and public collections.
McDowall, Duncan. Another World: Bermuda and the Rise of Modern Tourism. London: Macmillan Education, 1999. Canadian history professor and longtime Bermudaphile McDowall describes the economic makeover that tourism gave Bermuda, in a highly readable, anecdotal edition.
Slayton, Marina I. (Ed.). Four Centuries of Friendship. Bermuda: Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, 2009. A colorful, historic overview of diplomacy and relations between the United States and Bermuda from the 1600s to today.
Woodward, Hobson. A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempest. New York: Viking, 2009. A detailed and compelling narrative of the 1609 Sea Venture shipwreck on Bermuda, its survivors’ subsequent rescue of starving colonists at Jamestown, and the creative impact on history’s most famous playwright. By the associate editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Zuill, W. S. The Story of Bermuda and Her People. London: Macmillan Caribbean, third edition 1999. Concise paperback history of the island, written by a former editor of The Royal Gazette.
Nature and the Environment
The Bermuda Rose Society. Roses in Bermuda. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 1997. Packed with color photos to make identification easy, this edition highlights the wealth of roses and where to find them throughout the island, from ramblers and hybrid teas to the so-called mystery varieties. One section even details where to find Bermuda roses in the United States.
Dobson, Andrew. A Birdwatching Guide to Bermuda. Shrewsbury, England: Arlequin Press, 2002. A detailed birding guide written by the president of the island’s Audubon Society.
Frith, Kathleen and Jonathan; Constable, James and Jennifer; James Cooper. Sporty Little Field Guide to Bermuda. Bermuda: 2 Halves Publishing, 1997. A comprehensive paperback guide to the island’s main plant and animal life, with artful illustrations accompanied by brief, informative.
Lucas, Ron. Bermuda Reef Portraits. Bermuda: Bermuda Zoological Society, 2008. A full-color photographic guide of the island’s marine life, useful for divers and snorkelers.
Phillips-Watlington, Christine. Bermuda’s Botanical Wonderland: A Field Guide. London: MacMillan Education, 1996. Whimsically illustrated edition with renditions of typical island habitats and the abundant flora within them.
Sterrer, Wolfgang. Bermuda’s Marine Life. Bermuda: Bermuda Zoological Society, 1992. A comprehensive, and highly readable, look at all forms of island sealife by a former curator of the Bermuda Zoological Society’s Natural History Museum in Flatts.
Thomas, Martin L. H. A Natural History of Bermuda. Bermuda: Bermuda Zoological Society, 2004. Comprehensive full-color coffee-table edition by a Canadian professor and research scientist who studied the island’s flora and fauna for more than 30 years. Photos and detailed text on marine and terrestrial habitats and wildlife, along with coverage of threats to the island’s delicate ecosystem. Available at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo shop, as well as bookstores in Hamilton and St. George’s.
Thomas, Martin L. H. A Naturalist’s Field Guide to Bermuda. A condensed version of his larger work, in the form of a portable, full-color, pocket-sized field guide.
Williams, Malcolm and Sousa, Peter T. (Eds.). Coins of Bermuda. Bermuda: Bermuda Monetary Authority, 1997. A history of island coinage, from the first Hogge money and sterling coins to the decimal system.
Art and Architecture
Calnan, Patricia. The Masterworks Bermudiana Collection. Bermuda: The Bermudian Publishing Company, 1994. Lavish edition showcasing the repatriated island artworks of Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and other art-world luminaries, as collected by Bermuda’s Masterworks Foundation.
Shorto, Sylvia and MacDonald-Smith, Ian. Bermuda Gardens & Houses. New York: Rizzoli International, 1996. Informative coffee-table volume written by Bermudian art historian Shorto and photographed by much-published island lensman MacDonald-Smith.
Bottone, Edward. Spirit of Bermuda: Cooking with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. Bermuda: The Bermudian Publishing Company, 1998. Vibrantly illustrated cookbook by Philadelphia chef and former resident Bottone, with all the island’s favorite recipes (cod fish cakes, cassava pie), as well as colorful descriptions of holiday traditions and culinary folklore.
Island Thyme: Tastes and Traditions of Bermuda. Bermuda: Junior Service League, 2004. Collection of recipes, menus, and table settings from island residents and restaurants in a full-color volume produced to raise money for one of Bermuda’s core social agencies.
Ming, Fred. Bermuda Favourites. Bermuda: Fred Ming, 2004. A compendium of recipes from one of the island’s best-known chefs and cooking teachers, including red snapper fillets, red bean soup, and nasturtium salad.
Wadson, Judith. Bermuda: Traditions and Tastes. Bermuda: Judith Wadson, 1998. A history of Bermudian holidays, including Cup Match and Good Friday, and the typical dishes that accompany the celebrations.
Airey, Theresa and Marshall, Edward. Bermuda: The Quiet Years, 1883–1953. Bermuda: Theresa Airey and Edward Marshall, 2004. A fascinating collection of 147 restored nitrate negatives published for the first time in this edition, the book portrays the island before the advent of automobiles. Photographs taken by a handful of the island’s professional lensmen capture street scenes, city restaurants, lily festivals, the railway, and pristine landscapes many Bermudians would barely recognize anymore.
MacDonald-Smith, Ian. A Scape to Bermuda. Third edition. Bermuda: Ian MacDonald-Smith, 2004. All-season Bermuda, with studies of clouds, rocks, flower-strewn lanes, architecture, rainbows, and Christmas lights.
Skinner, Roland. Picturesque Bermuda I and II. Bermuda: Roland Skinner, 1996 and 1999. Landscapes, seascapes, and aerial shots of Bermuda by prolific lensman Skinner, a former Bermuda News Bureau staffer who now owns one of the largest Bermuda stock photo libraries and sells large-scale prints of his work.
Spurling, Ann. Nine Parishes. Bermuda: Ann Spurling, 2003. Pricey ($80) but satisfying photographic tour of the island by the island’s premier homes-and-gardens photographer. Entertainingly written and laden with informative captions and parish intros, its lush spreads feature Bermudian homes, people, cultural traditions, and pastimes. For its scope and local knowledge, it is one of the best Bermuda pictorials available.
Duffy, Catherine R. Held Captive: A History of International Insurance in Bermuda. Toronto: Oakwell Boulton, 2004. Definitive 516-page tome outlining the creation of “Bermuda, Inc.” in detailed CEO interviews, photos, glossaries, and corporate profiles.
Stewart, Robert. A Guide to the Economy of Bermuda. Toronto: Oakwell Boulton, 2003. An analysis of why Bermuda has been one of the most successful economies in the world for the past half century by economics teacher and former Shell Group CEO who now is the director of several international Bermuda companies and investment funds.
For such a small island, Bermuda boasts a surprising number of well-produced children’s books, which local and visiting kids enjoy for their stories about island animals, icons, and traditions, including treefrogs, cedar trees, and sailboats. They make great souvenirs for kids back at home, too.
Booth, Mark. Illustrated by Patricia DeCosta. Bermuda’s Sidney the Sailboat. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 1994. Compelling Cinderella tale of a neglected sailboat and its adventures. Perfect for ages four and up.
Cooper, Dana. My Bermuda ABC. New York: Worzalla Publishing Company, 1991. Bermudian commercial artist Cooper’s whimsical counting and alphabet guides, inhabited by tropical touchstones like loquats, limestone, and lizards.
Donkin, Andrew. Bermuda Triangle. New York: Dorling Kindersley (DK), 2000. Eerily illustrated and vividly told, this DK Readers Program book, with large text for easy reading, is a kid-pleasing synopsis of the legendary phenomenon.
Jacobs, Francine. Bermuda Petrel: The Bird that Would Not Die. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1981. The story of the endemic Bermuda petrel, or cahow.
Jones, Rosemary. Bermuda: Five Centuries for Young People. Bermuda: Panatel VDS Ltd., 2009. This spin-off of the adult edition was created for young readers, with kid-friendly text and a redesign loaded with images, timelines, and breakouts.
Karwoski, Gail Langer. Miracle: The True Story of the Wreck of the Sea Venture. Plain City, Ohio: Darby Creek Publishing, 2004. Very professionally produced edition by Georgia-based writer Karwoski that’s sure to captivate young imaginations with the story of Bermuda’s first colonists. Kid-friendly design includes scores of illustrations, photos, and graphics, along with digestible, yet historically detailed text and provoking sidebars on early navigation, island traditions, birds, and animals. A great buy for inquisitive kids of all ages.
Mulderig, A. Elizabeth. Tiny the Treefrog Tours Bermuda. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 1992. A charmingly illustrated rhyme about a quixotic treefrog and his Bermuda sightseeing exploits.
Stevenson, Kevin. Illustrated by Daniel, Helen. The Story of the Bermuda Cedar Tree. Bermuda: Bermudian Publishing Company, 1997. Artfully illustrated with gouache plates, the book tells the story of Bermuda’s iconic tree and its multiple uses throughout the centuries.
Rare or Out-of-Print Books
Some of the best books on Bermuda are now out of print, but copies can be found for sale at various stores around the island, including Bermuda Bookstore and Bermuda Craft Market at Dockyard. Or, contact dealers directly: Anthony Pettit, by appointment, tel. 441/292-2482, fax 441/295-5416, www.anthonypettit.com; Twice-Told Tales, 34 Parliament St., Hamilton, tel. 441/296-1995. Some rare editions often can be found online for competitive prices at sites like eBay, alibris, and other rare-book sites.
Beebe, William. Half Mile Down. New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1951. In his own words, the story of deep-ocean pioneer Beebe’s underwater explorations in a revolutionary bathysphere off Bermuda in the 1930s.
Dorr, Julia. Bermuda: An Idyl of the Summer Islands. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1884. Amusing Victorian travelogue written by a wintering American at the time of tourism’s debut in Bermuda, her island sojourn coinciding with that of Princess Louise.
Hutchings Smith, Louisa. Bermuda’s Oldest Inhabitants: Tales of Plant Life. Sevenoaks, England: J. Salmon Ltd., 1963. Gardeners and naturalists will enjoy this beautifully illustrated account of the island’s flora, with nine color plates by artist May Middleton.
Winchester, Simon. Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire. London: Sceptre, 1986. Witty observations of journalist Winchester’s 1970s visit to Bermuda, among other remaining British colonial “pink” spots on the map.
Bermuda on Film
The Bermuda Depths, Rankin-Bass, 1978. A made-for-TV motion-picture adventure written by Arthur Rankin, Jr., a Bermuda resident and Canadian cartoon producer of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Directed by Shussei Kotani, the film stars Burl Ives, Leigh McCloskey, Carl Weathers, and Connie Selleca in a ghost yarn about scientists terrorized by a giant turtle as they investigate the Bermuda Triangle. McCloskey and Selleca’s kid versions are played by Bermudian children.
Bermuda: Five Centuries, Panatel VDS Ltd., 1999. Six-part documentary series using contemporary interviews and historic and modern footage to trace the island’s history via major social themes over 500 years. With companion book.
The Deep, Columbia Pictures, 1977. Peter Benchley’s underwater thriller, directed by Peter Yates and starring Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset, and Lou Gossett, Jr., was inspired by Benchley’s visits to the island and was filmed in Bermuda. A romantic interlude turns to adventure when a couple discovers gold coins and mysterious glass ampoules on a sunken World War II wreck. The film features many familiar sights—including lots of Bermudian extras. Based on Benchley’s 1976 book of the same title, one of its hallmark elements was the theme song, sung by Donna Summer.
Neptune’s Daughter, Warner Studios, 1949. This Oscar-winning musical-comedy-romance directed by Edward Buzzell and starring aquatic goddess Esther Williams, Red Skelton, and Ricardo Montalban was filmed at a pool on Agar’s Island, in Bermuda’s Great Sound. The production was fraught with problems, but the film ended up as the 10th-grossing movie of that year, propelled by the popular song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition