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Straight on Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,939 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Born in England and raised in Kenya, Beryl Markham was a notorious beauty. She trained race horses and had scandalous affairs, but she is most remembered for being a pioneering aviatrix. She became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the first person to make it from London to New York nonstop. In Mary S. Lovell’s definitive biography, Beryl takes on new life— ...more
Paperback, 421 pages
Published May 16th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1983)
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This is truly a fair-minded piece of work by an author who travelled extensively and took the trouble to meet the woman she intended to write about. Beryl Markham was truly a complicated woman, and not always (maybe not ever) a pleasant one. I was so impressed by the book allegedly written by Markham, West with the Night, that I sought this biography out immediately. I'm glad I did; Ms Lovell has a gift for presenting the entire subject, warts and all, to the reader without telling you what ...more
This is a well written and meticulously researched biography of Beryl Markham. Back in the early 1980s I had read her memoir “West with the Night” and was impressed. The memoir had originally been published in the 1940s. This book provided a lot more information and insight into Beryl. She was a private person and did not disclose much personal information in her memoir. The author stayed neutral throughout the book. Lovell stated the rumors then set about providing documentation proving or ...more
Steven Hull
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When re-released in 1983, Beryl Markham’s West With The Night (1942) became an immediate success, perhaps more so than when it was originally released in the long shadow of World War II. Personally, West With The Night’s literary eloquence, discussion of early 20th Century British East Africa, and its insight into Markham’s own remarkable life made it an attractive read, and after doing so I felt compelled to read Markham’s autobiography by Mary S. Lovell. Lovell’s treatment of Markham, written ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-or-memoir
This is a fantastic read! A detailed look at the life & death of a remarkable woman, along with nice backstory on the many people that influenced Markham whether heavily or just slightly. There are things to admire and love about Beryl Markham, as well as many significant flaws including being a master manipulator, promiscuity, & financially inept. A complex character to say the least, one both independent yet always needing someone to affirm her value. The book is crammed full of ...more
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this after finishing Beryl Markham's autobiography "West with the Night". That book was an amazingly lyrical, beautiful memoir. This biography by Mary Lovell fleshes out the details of this remarkable woman's life. Lovell was able to spend time with Beryl Markham for several weeks near the end of her life. She was also granted access to all of Markham's papers, and conducted numerous, in depth interviews with many people from her life, both friends and "enemies." Markham was essentially a ...more
Susan Stuber
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is a very well-researched, well-written biography, but you have to be extremely interested in Markham to read all of the letters, telegrams, etc. But after reading "Circling the Sun" and "West with the Wind," I felt compelled to read this book, which gives you the whole story in detail, and I am glad I did. If anything, it added to the Markham mystic.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, africa
A speculation dense biography. Lots of details discussed that are inferences or third or more party gossip.

Yet, these rumors are apparently the only possible explanation about parts of Beryl Clutterbuck(etal)'s life.

The known, documented parts of her life are fascinating and more than worth the time for a biographer to have written as extensively as this author did. That she, the author was able to spend time with this legend adds even more meat to the story.

The writing wanders at places or is
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
I loved West With the Night that I read several months ago so I was interested in foraging for
the real story behind Beryl Markham’s solo
flight west across the Atlantic, her childhood
in Africa and her relationship with several famous men of the early twentieth century. Beryl’s father was a failed (bankrupt) British my officer who fled to British Fast Africa where he realized the potential for profit in supplying wood to the government, which had embarked on an ambitious railroad-building project.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my year of Beryl Markham, instigated by reading West with the Night, Beryl's memoir about growing up in British East Africa (now Kenya) and her solo east to west transatlantic flight in 1936. I loved the thrilling way that Markham told us of her life and adventures, even knowing what she was telling us was not exactly factual, but more written in the best storytelling tradition.

I really enjoyed this biography which give the fuller, more factual picture of her life. Even without Beryl's
Doug Dams
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the biography of Beryl Markham. She was a remarkable woman raised in British East Africa. She learned to train race horses from her father, learned to track game and hunt from the Nandi warriors she grew up with and she learned to fly and was a bush pilot in Africa. She became internationally famous when she became the first person to fly from England to North America (against the winds). It's a fascinating life and you have to wonder why her story has become lost. She knew Isak Dineson ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beryl Markham was a familiar name, as she had been a neighbour to my grandparents, but I didn't really know that much about her and had really never read about her. Now I wish I'd met her when she was still around. What a remarkable mould breaking person she was. The book was extremely well researched and written. It was hard to put it down. I am now left with an appetite to read more about Beryl and more books by the same author.
Jan 06, 2015 marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Gerry
Description: Beryl Markham, who died in 1986, was the first person to fly solo from England to America. The full story of her adventures across three continents are revealed in this biography of a lady whose fame as a pioneer flyer and leading racehorse trainer, was only exceeded by her beauty and controversial character.

4* Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527-1608
WL Straight on Till Morning
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-shelf
Not as good as West in the Night but still furthers your understanding of a remarkable lady. Has several sections of pictures of her life.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It gave me a more complete background of Beryl Markham's life, but I would have liked more of her writings and fewer author impressions.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like so many others, read this book after becoming aware of Beryl Markham via Out of Africa and other books about British East Africa (Kenya). Her autobiographical West with the Night is a wonderful story, and Straight on Till Morning: the Biography of Beryl Markham fills in a lot of the gaps, both about the historical period, covering most of the twentieth century UK, US, and Africa (British East Africa / Kenya and South Africa), as well as about Beryl's life. Beryl was a top notch racehorse ...more
Kate Lawrence
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
In preparing to write this biography, Lovell had the rare opportunity to spend time with Markham in Africa a few months before the latter's death in 1986. Here we find out the background and the continuation to the adventures recounted in Markham's memoir West with the Night, and have most questions satisfyingly answered. We find out that her mother hated Africa and moved back to England, leaving a very young Beryl to grow up in Africa with her father. Markham was married three times, had many ...more
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Lovell brings a more personal touch to this autobiography that is about a remarkable, enigmatic and courageous if somewhat unpleasant woman. Seeing how Lovell had time to interview Beryl Markham it would have been more interesting to have more quotes from the woman herself but it is largely left up to her contemporaries to provide second hand insight into the woman who led quite a flamboyantly public life yet remained entirely close lipped about various aspects of her life story. One of the ...more
Eileen Pucci
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I was inspired to read this biography of Beryl Markham after reading Paula McClain's Circling the Sun.

Beryl Markham's claim to fame was that she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. She was also a very successful racehorse trainer in Kenya where she was raised and spent most of her life.

Although she never had any money, she always managed to get by and sometimes lived very well by sponging off of friends and lovers.

She was a fascinating character.

Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An honest and unflinching portrait of a woman who lived life on her own terms, without apology or reservation. Beryl Markham was fearless, exasperating, endearing, infuriating, charming, temperamental, rude, feckless, uninhibited and almost everyone who knew her loved her dearly. Married three times, Beryl grew up in British East Africa, lived in England and America, met and befriended people like Denys Finch-Hatton, Karen Blixen, Edward VIII and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, survived terrible losses ...more
Marlene Koslowsky
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book several years ago so I don't recall much detail. I am currently rereading "West with the Night" for a library group discussion so my interest in Ms. Markham has been resurrected. Straight on Till Morning is the perfect accompaniment to West with the Night as it fills in a lot of gaps. For instance, not once in West with the Night are Beryl's marriages mentioned. Straight on gives a much fuller picture of her life as a horse trainer and as a pilot. I love the detail given of her ...more
Dec 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fairly thorough biography of Beryl Markham, which sheds a lot more light on her life (especially on her tumultuous relationships with men) than her autobiography. Lovell does suffer from a little bit too much "psych 101" in trying to lay out for the readers why Beryl was unable to be in any successful relationship or marriage. It gets a bit pedantic and repetitive to be told how wonderful Beryl's father was and how no man could ever live up to him. If he's so great, shouldn't he get his own ...more
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
Loved Beryls memoir West with the Night and was happy to discover this excellent biography that told the story of her whole life. The books title comes from the novel Peter Pan which the author quotes on the front piece: "How do you get to Neverland? Wendy asked. 'Second star to the right, and straight on till morning." Seems a fitting quote for this fiercely independent, daring and zestful living woman. Read it in the early 1990's after reading Out of Africa and interested in learning more ...more
From the very beginning Beryl was not normal. Born in England. Raised in Kenya by her father after her mother left her there when she was 3 (but taking her brother). Beryl Markham could do anything. Free of morals and society obligations to change jobs quicker then blinking only to go back and start again. Survived three marriages, idolized by a son she rarely saw and often did not acknowledge. I think she is the closest thing I have seen to phoenix. You could always count on her to rise to ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: autobiography lovers, aviation interests, Africa
While I had an incredibly hard time making it through the first 50 pages (a start/stop/start) I eventually got over the hump and really enjoyed the rest of the book.
Part of the issue with the beginning is that she is just not a particularly likable personality; haughty , self-centered and continually a usurer. However, she has an amazing life story. It is perhaps, primarily, due to such a personality that she was able to accomplish and experience so much.
Well worth the read.
May 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beryl Markham and her set are so fascinating. They epitomize the romance and intrigue of the colonial age in Africa, and as much heartache that has resulted from that age, the appeal to read of it now has not lessened.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“West with the Night" offers a little tease about the exploits of horse trainer and record-setting aviator Beryl Markham in the early years of the 1900s. Historical novel “Circling the Sun” fills in a few more blanks - but “Straight On Till Morning” provides the full biographical scoop on Beryl Markham’s adventurous life and does it exceptionally well.

Born in 1902 to upper class British Kenyan colonialists, her mother stepped out of her life at age four and Beryl learned to be independent and
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One day I picked up the book West with the Night, which piqued my interest since I've always been fascinated by Markham's fellow female aviator, Amelia Earhart. Having also spent some time in Kenya, my intrigue in the book was doubled. And Markham did not fail to deliver.

Beryl Markham is a truly fascinating woman. Having been raised by her father in what had been British East Africa, according to her memoirs she had a rather wild childhood, venturing out into the brush with her African playmates
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really like this book. Lovell clearly liked and admired her subject but remained pretty objective. Markham had such a fascinating life - today it's really hard to imagine a life like hers. Those days are gone unfortunately.

I'm really glad I read this AFTER reading "West With the night" (which I loved) as there are some spoilers in the bio.

If you like well-researched bios about fascinating, maddening, brilliant women, you will probably enjoy this very much.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
Fantastic story of Beryl Markham. Story of a tomboy growing up in Africa, and the woman she became. Hemingway thought she was a bitch but could write rings around the best writers of the time. Interesting side biography of Deny Fitch Hatton, an independent man who would not be tied down.
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I learned a lot about the early days when Kenya was first settled by the British in the late 1800s and early 1900s and a little bit of gossip, possibly true, of the men who became kings of England. Beryl Markham was an accomplished aviator and one of the best horse trainers in Kenya, Rhodesia, and South Africa. The second publishing of her first book West With the Wind, which had been out of print, introduced her to a new generation, but this ...more
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Mary was an accountant and company director for 20 years before becoming a writer. She wrote her first book in 1981 at the age of 40, while recovering from a broken back which was the result of a riding accident. She returned to accountancy but during the following 5 years she also published two further non-fiction books that were written in her spare time.

She lives in the New Forest in Hampshire,