Constance F. Gordon-Cumming Finds Home

Orphaned young, Constance accepted the governor’s invitation to sail to Fiji.  With pen and brush the Scottish spinster records sweating missionaries civilizing island savages.
After drinking kava from the enlightened coconut shell, the mountains beckon her with echoes of distant highlands ablaze with heather.  With the native women she climbed the dangerous tracks, her long skirt bruising orchids. They swam in deep pools of cool water, often without bathing gowns. The tropic sun coloured her pale skin.
With open eyes ‘Eka’ records the mountain tribes who descended and ate the converted ones’ flesh.
She records life on her island home.

________

There are certain people who inspire me and arouse in me a desire  to sit in a shady seat drinking tea and nibbling delicate sandwiches while we chat about any topic that takes our fancy. This story is dedicated to one of those.
Constance Frederica “Eka” Gordon-Cumming (1837-1924) was a travel writer and painter.
Born at Altyre, near Forres in Scotland, the 12th child of Sir William Gordon-Cumming, 2nd Baronet, and Elizabeth Maria (Campbell) Cumming. She grew up in Northumberland and was educated at Fulham, London. With some guidance from visiting artists, she taught herself how to paint.  After spending 1867 living in India, she became interested in travel and came to be a Victorian-era travel writer and landscape painter who traveled extensively throughout Asia and the Pacific, often alone and unaided. While her landscape drawings and watercolours were much admired, Constance received much criticism from her contemporary male writers, perhaps because she did not fit in the traditional Victorian role of women. I suspect it was ego-driven jealousy, although it may well have been because the sun saw places that they never did! <AJC>

 

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