Arnold Marsh – Home & Away

In 1912 Arnold Marsh is a young Quaker from Belfast, boarding the S.S. Athenia for Canada aged twenty-one just months after the ill-fated Titanic, having first set sail from Belfast shipyards on its maiden voyage to New York via Southend.

Spanning over eighty years, Arnold’s perceptions and experiences come across with a boundless sense of humour, respect, tolerance and self-discipline in the face of relentless encounters in the USA and Europe. On arrival in Canada in 1912 he made his way to join his brother Victor at the gold mines of Ontario, and then on to work on two new railways up through Alaska, providing access to Pacific trade routes to Asia. Then, as a soldier during World War I serving with the U.S. Army, he was sent to France accompanied by the dreaded Spanish Flu, until the war ended. Then came societal and economic progress during the Machine Age, while the Irish Civil War raged. He then became a forceful commentator in Irish politics and then a principal figure as headmaster of two progressive Quaker schools. This book combines his memoirs, with selected letters home to Belfast between 1912 and 1922, illustrated with photographs, clippings, maps and postcards. Arnold becomes our friend and narrator, and shares his experience and observations of some of the most dramatic world and local events of the twentieth century.

‘I do not expect to live in Belfast again, in Bethlehem ever, or on Slemish except in my mind, but all these helped in their way to make me, and they travelled with me to distant parts of the world. So did Ulster, Munster, and all of Ireland; and so did an accumulation of places in Europe, and some of England, Canada, Alaska, California and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. So did every trivial adventure or misadventure that I have had, enjoyed, or not enjoyed, and remembered or forgotten. They are mine again for the time being, however vivid or hazy or doubtful, I hope some readers will be able to enjoy them with me. Of places very beautiful or unbeautiful places, or interesting people whom I can only vaguely remember, or can remember with clarity and delight, or laughter, vexation or even anger. I cannot live with them all over again but I don’t want to say goodbye to any of them any sooner than I must. Come.’ – from Prologue

Here are the original 3 unedited books of letters back to mother and sister of Arnold Marsh over 10 years between 1912 an 1922 along with the original transcript and layout of the memoirs manuscript (ending in 1947) typewritten from notes and memories in his eighties.