Castaways on the Antipodes Islands: Background information when reading The Mannequin Makers

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The Mannequin Makers

by Craig Cliff

The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff X
The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff
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    Nov 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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Castaways on the Antipodes Islands

This article relates to The Mannequin Makers

Print Review

In The Mannequin Makers, a mysterious character called The Carpenter finds himself shipwrecked on a tiny island, part of the Antipodes Islands that lie several hundred miles south of New Zealand. He has no idea where he is, beyond being lost somewhere in the Southern Ocean. The island which he describes as the "lemon wedge" (and his rescuers call Horseshoe Island), is now named Bollons Island after one of the men who rescues The Carpenter in the novel, real-life marine captain, John Bollons.

Bollons was born in London in 1862 and went to sea at the age of fourteen. He was shipwrecked when the vessel he worked on, England's Glory, ran ashore near Bluff Harbour in New Zealand in 1881. From then on Bollons was based in New Zealand working his way through the ranks of sailors before becoming ship's captain of the Hinemoa (referenced in The Mannequin Makers) in 1892.

Castaway hut at the northern end of Antipodes island The various ships Bollons served on worked the New Zealand coastline servicing lighthouses, charting the coastline, maintaining relief depots and rescuing castaways. The relief depots were established on a number of the subantarctic islands south of New Zealand by the government in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They contained warm clothing, blankets, preserved food, and useful equipment intended to provide basic resources to those who had shipwrecked. Between 1833 and 1908 there were eleven shipwrecks in the region. Of those, two left castaways on the Antipodes Islands. In September 1893, the Spirit of the Dawn, was wrecked but eleven men were rescued after 87 days on one of the islands. Fifteen years later, all twenty-two crew members of the President Felix Faure survived for two months before being successfully rescued. Much of the crew of the Spirit of the Dawn did not find the castaway depot that had been established in 1886, but the eleven men who made it, survived just like The Carpenter does until he finds a depot, by eating seabirds and vegetation. This particular depot still exists and has been maintained as a conservation site by the New Zealand government. Visiting the site is far from easy however. Quite apart from the geographic inaccessibility of the Antipodes Islands, they are not visited by commercial tour operators and can be accessed by permit only.

Picture of old castaway hut in the North of Antipodes Islands, New Zealand by Lawrie M

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Kate Braithwaite

This article relates to The Mannequin Makers. It first ran in the January 3, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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