From an early age Vincent Roth kept a detailed, account of his experiences, often illustrated with sketches and later by watercolours, and it was from these hand-written journals that his son-in-law, Michael Bennett, edited this book.
This first volume covers his early years as a child abandoned to relatives in France, Scotland and London, his reuniting at the age of twelve with his father and step-mother in Australia, his arrival in British Guiana and the first fifteen years of his work in the interior. Blessed with insatiable curiosity, a capacious and exacting memory, Vincent Roth writes vividly of surveying expeditions up the Demerara River, in the North West District, to Arakaka, Morawhanna and Moruca. There are gripping descriptions of the hazards of river travel, hauling up waterfalls and shooting rapids, and the outsize characters of the river captains such as Captain Blood, and their skill and daring. There are fascinating accounts of the peoples of the interior, the Amerindians, the porkknockers, balata bleeders, gold miners, coffee growers and smugglers. Read Roth and you’ll know how to pan for gold and diamonds! Deadly snakes, tiger-cats, sloths, water-dogs, hairy bird-eating spiders, rampaging wild hogs and birds of all descriptions provide Roth with moments of wonder, alarm, food - and (as a enthusiastic taxidermist) specimens to stuff.
In this volume Roth grows from callow youth to energetic and opinionated manhood, constantly getting under the skin of petty-minded colonial officials - and developing a deep, though sometimes exasperated, love for Guyana.
Between 1907 and 1964, Vincent Roth contributed immensely to the development of Guyana, first as a surveyor in the interior, then as a journalist, historian and naturalist.