I finally finished my book “A Sense of the World” by Jason Roberts. It’s a biography of James Holmes, an Englishman who suddenly became blind in the early 1800s. His childhood dream had been to travel around the world and he had joined the British Navy to accomplish that.
He did some amazing things while he was sighted but it’s what he did once he became blind that makes your jaw drop. In a time when blind people were thought to also lose their intelligence with blindness, he went to medical school in Edinburgh. Then he started to travel. On his own.
(Front piece from his book "Voyage Round The World"
He wrote of his adventures and for a while was quite popular in England. He was known as “The Blind Traveler”. He did travel around the world to places such as Imperial Russia, the jungles of Brazil, through the Pacific islands, and west Africa.
(Holman in old age)
It was a bit of a slow read for me, as the author did a lot of research and he put it all in there. So you get a lot on British naval history, medical practices of the time, transportation that was used, etc. Plus his storytelling voice is very similar to the formal way of speaking and lecturing of that time period. In one way it makes it seem more like you are reading a biography written during the time period but it definitely gives the old brain a workout!
I very much enjoyed the book. And it was a nice change to have something to read that took more than a couple days.