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Stephen Hawys

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:10 pm
by jomar
I recently read a semi-autobiography written by Stephen Hawys entitled "Mount Joy". Hawys was an artist who essentially got himself stranded in Dominica about 1929, after he lost all his money when the stock markets crashed and the Great Depression began. He had just bought what was intended to be a vacation property, but which turned out to be the only thing he still owned. His began farming his 80 acre estate, Mount Joy, continued painting, and lived in Dominica for the next 40 years. Since Hawes was more than forty years old in 1929, I assume he lived there until he died.
The book itself is really about Dominica, the bygone Dominica of another age, written by an upper class Oxford educated Englishman who became a resident and a lover of Dominica. His book is frequently beautiful, but can be hard to take at times. Hawys is not shy about expressing his opinions, and they are those of an extremely self-assured 19th century British aristocrat. Nevertheless, Hawys writes that he "surrendered to the island", and his account of his life there, the people, the plants and animals, and the land itself, is sometimes heartbreakingly beautiful. Although he describes Dominica in the 1930s and 40s, much of what he wrote seemed very familiar.

I've tried to find out more about Hawys, especially his life after 1968 when "Mount Joy" was published, and also about his art, much of which reflected Dominican themes, but I have not been able to find out very much. He is mentioned in Alec Waugh's long chapter about Dominica in "Sugar Islands", published in 1948, but there does not seem to be much in print.
I hope to visit Mount Joy and some of the other places Hawys mentions when I return to Dominica in January for what will be my 5th visit to my favorite island.
If anyone has any information to share about Hawys, I'd be very grateful.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 5:03 pm
by Anthony
Jomar very interesting stuff - have you searched Google, etc.? Have you seen this info:

HAWYS, Stephen – Anything about Dominica. (Roseau) pamph, ills, [nd]. Descriptive. Dominica. Her

HAWYS, Stephen – The Book about the Sea Gardens of Nassau, Bahamas. By Stephen Haweis. (New York: PF Collier & Son) 78 pages 8vo hb, col frontis, ills, [1917]. Marine resources. Sea gardens. Bahamas. Describes the sea life. Attractive line drawings and a coloured painting by the author. BL, Her, LOC, My.R

HAWYS, Stephen – Dominica: The Heart of the West Indies. (Roseau: Printed for the Tourist Development Committee at the Bulletin Office) 17pages pamph, 2 photos, [nd]. Travel. Descriptive. Dominica. A guidebook for tourists. Scarce

HAWYS, Stephen – Mount Joy. By Stephen Hawys. (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd) xiii,224 pages hb, 12 photos, 1 map, dj, 1968. Descriptive. Dominica. An autobiography. BL, Com, Her, LOC, My.D, My.R, Pos

HAWYS, Stephen – Rabbits in the West Indies. (Roseau: Bulletin Office) 23 pages pamph, 1948. Agriculture. Livestock. Rabbits. Caribbean area. Scarce. My.R

HAWYS, Stephen – [UK-born poet, painter, planter, and amateur biologist (1878-1968); settled in Dominica in 1929; changed his name from HAWEIS very late in life. Her.]

Here is that site: The home page is here and there is contact info - maybe an email would turn something up.

The last entry says he changed his name "late in life". Maybe you could search on Haweis also (aha - check this out This is obviously sort of obscure but I would keep digging. Try Google, Yahoo, MSN and ask - they always have something a little different from each other. Try different keyword combinations too, you never know what you may trip up.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 5:05 pm
by Anthony

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 5:09 pm
by Anthony
"Stephen Haweis was one of those eccentrics who drift upon Dominca's shores from time to time. He was born in England in 1879. He was an artist in Paris at the time of young Picasso and Matisse. He painted in the Pacific, Africa, the Bahamas and the United States before settling in Dominica in about 1929. His home was at Mount Joy near Springfield and there in his garden studio he painted and wrote pamphlets and irate newspaper articles on Dominica. In the mid sixties, he published a book called simply "Mount Joy".

Haweis' paintings wee mostly done in oils: forest scenes, bright fish against foliage and peasant characters working or dancing. Few examples remain in Dominica; most were quickly purchased by visitors. The largest collection belongs to John Archbold and is in Virginia USA, while a small sample of Haweis flower and religious Paintings are in the Possession of the Bishop of Roseau at the time. He was a gifted artist and his better pieces capture the feeling of the island well. He died here in 1969."



PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:47 pm
by jomar
Thank you, Anthony. I had been able to pull together a few bits and pieces, but your info really helped, especially the part about the change in the spelling of the last name. In Waugh's "Sugar Islands" Dominica is the most extensively described island. Waugh writes about a visit to the studio at Mount Joy in 1948. He spelled the name "Haweis". It seemed odd, considering the way the artist spelled his own name in his book, but your post made everything clear. Thanks again. There is so much history under the surface in Dominica. I have been doing a lot of reading in both primary and secondary sources, and some of the material is fascinating, incredibly interesting.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:12 am
by Anthony
Your post really got my curiosity going - his wife seemed just as if not more interesting than him. There is a lot about her on the Internet since a rather recent biography was published. That whole Paris turn of the century thing, Gertrude Stein, The Futurists, etc. is one of my favorite periods of art history. And I am actually living in Florence now and Haweis and his wife have some history in this town too. Check out this time line, it mentions Haweis a couple of times: ... nology.htm

Post more info if you find it.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:24 pm
by jomar
Yes, Anthony, curiosity leads to all sorts of interesting connections. The Archbold art collection, which one of the sites you found mentions as the location of much of Hawys' paintings, is connected with the fabulously rich Archbold family, whose wealth originated with Standard Oil and John D. Rockefeller. John Archbold, a descendant of the dynasty's founder, bought the Springfield Plantation in Dominica in 1935, just a year after he graduated from Princeton. He and his first wife Anne were good friends of Stephen Hawys. In fact, Hawys dedicated his book "Mount Joy" to Anne. John Archbold eventually donated Springfield Plantation and the Middleham Estate to the Nature Conservancy, which in turn gave the land to Dominica. The Archbold Tropical Research Center and nearly 1000 acres of land that was donated by the Archbold family are an important part of Dominica's Trois Piton forest preserve. The Archbold family has been deeply involved, along with the related Roebling family, to preservation projects in tropical forests throughout the world, including Florida, since the 1920s.

I agree that the former wife of Stephen Haweis/Hawys, Mina Lowy/Loy, has a much more interesting history. She was involved in the vibrant turn of the century art scene in Europe, as you mention, but even more intriguing, I think, were her connections to the whole international progressive movement, centered in New York City during the first three decades of the 20th century. John Reed, Louise Bryant, Max Eastman, Emma Goldman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay, Eugene O'Neill, William Carlos Williams, Sherwood Anderson, the Harlem Renaissance, the New Woman Movement, Free Love, Anarchism, Marxism, the IWW, an endlessly fascinating series of links. I've begun to read some of Mina Lowy's excellent and unusual poetry. I'd never have known about it had I not started to look into some of Dominica's history. Strange and wonderful connections.

the more things change

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:43 am
by jomar
I was rereading parts of "The Sugar Islands", Alec Waugh's 1949 Caribbean travelogue. He describes how John Archbold and his second wife, Lucy, nearly drowned in 1948 after unwisely attempting to swim in the rough surf at La Plaine on Dominica's windward coast. After the rescue, Waugh and his party were completely frustrated, absolutely unable to find a single thing to eat. Waugh writes that, outside of Roseau, a traveller can easily starve.
Waugh also relates how Stephen Haweis was briefly imprisoned in Dominica during WW2 for writing essays critical of the government during wartime. Waugh is a gossip, and all kinds of tidbits can be found in his book.
There also are obscure but interesting details in "Mount Joy". Like me, Hawys was interested in the Island's reptiles. He mentions a huge Dominican Boa that was mistaken for a log by some women who, Hawys' gardener claimed "run like then never stop". Hawys goes into considerable detail about a Dominican forest tortoise which is almost certain a South American species brought to Dominica by the Arawaks and Caribs. He mentions finding dozens of them deep in the interior, sometimes observing them dig their nests. They now are apparently extinct. Hawys sadly predicts the eventual extinction of the Crapaud.