Launch of 'Barroco on the Rock'
A new book on Gibraltar was launched on Thursday afternoon at the premises of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.
Barroco on the Rock, which has been written by Richard Garcia, comprises four elements.
At the heart lies the rich account of Gibraltar in the early Victorian era contained in the four chapters on Gibraltar written by George Borrow in his book The Bible in Spain, following his visit to the Rock in August 1839.
The context of the descriptions, and the references in the text, are explained in detailed notes which accompany each page of the text.
They are enriched by contemporary watercolours by Major-General Staunton St Clair, press cuttings, photographs - many of them of the Victorian period - and even a copy of Borrow's hotel bill from Griffiths' Hotel in Gibraltar. Finally, there is an introduction which examines some of the aspects of Gibraltar that Borrow particularly noticed, and highlights some of the things he fails to describe.
The book was launched by Dr Ann Ridler, in the presence of Dr Clive Wilkins-Jones and Mr Philip Ivory. They are the Directors of the Lavengro Press, who are the publishers of the book. Also present were Mrs Freda Wilkins-Jones and Mrs Margaret Ivory. They had travelled to Gibraltar specially for the occasion. Dr Ridler is additionally the chair of the George Borrow Society.
Dr Ridler was introduced by Richard Garcia, who thanked all those who had helped with the book and the book launch, including the Heritage Trust, who allowed the event to be hosted in their premises; the Gibraltar National Archives, the Garrison Library and The Convent, who had all provided illustrations for the book; and Saccone & Speed who sponsored the drinks at the launch. This company was founded in 1839, the same year that Borrow came to Gibraltar.
In her speech, Dr Ridler commented on Borrow's visit to Gibraltar. She highlighted in particular the descriptions of a series of individuals whom he met in Gibraltar, which enrich his narrative. They came from a rich spread of ethnic backgrounds: from the Jews and Moroccans who particularly fascinated Borrow, through North American and Irish individuals, and members of the British garrison of Gibraltar, to 'Rock Scorpions' and Gibraltarians. 'Rock Scorpions' was the name given to persons who had one English parent and one Gibraltarian parent. She invited those interested to join the George Borrow Society, and to enjoy not only the Gibraltar chapters of the book, but the whole of The Bible in Spain.
Barroco on the Rock is on sale at the Gibraltar Bookshop, the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and the Gibraltar Museum, priced £12.50. The first edition has been produced in a limited numbered edition of 150 copies. Also available is a reading on a cd of the Gibraltar chapters of The Bible in Spain by John Hentges, priced £10.