In acknowledgement of Ian Itter’s Birthday today, I thought I’d just say a few words about one of his latest books, of particular interest to Austin 7 owners and any reader of early adventure stories. ‘To Hell and Gone – Revisited’ by Ian Itter is a much improved, well-researched and better illustrated revival of the original 1930s book ‘To Hell and Gone’ by Penryn Goldman. It follows on from Ian’s successful re-publication in a similar vein of ‘We and The Baby’ by Hector McQuarrie.
Although one of its main features is the not altogether successful pioneering journey in a 1926 Austin 7 it also encompasses a tale about a much wider adventure throughout the South Pacific in the late nineteen twenties/early thirties. He modestly describes himself by saying in the preface ‘that scholarship was denied me’ but this disguises the fact that this is a very well written account that otherwise could have been tedious if ‘scholarship had been denied him’ ! In other words it is one of the best accounts that I have ever read of an adventure and of people he met at a time we can only imagine now.
He is the master of understatement in that at the end of the original version he makes passing remarks as to witnessing the D0-X Flying Boat (one of 6 made and the first aircraft to make successful transatlantic trips) and also flying in and being given a guided tour of the Graf Zeppelin Airship which Ian Itter has quite rightly elaborated upon along with adding other valuable illustrations, particularly of the various stopping points along his 2000 mile treacherous trek across Australia. Ian has also added valuable additional material at the end of his version of the book such as a short summary of the author and various newspaper articles of the time.
There’s no escaping the fact that Penryn was born into a wealthy and fortunate family but instead of taking advantage of this he worked his passage out to Australia as a deck-hand and mentions almost in passing his other jobs as a cattle-hand, a logger on timber camps and even working in the diamond mines in Kimberly among many others and undertook the Austin 7 drive at the tender age of 18 !
The other thing that is admirable about the book is that he captures the solitude and at times desperation of his lonely and challenging trip that is far more realistic than the gung-ho accounts of many similar adventures. All in all a very good book that I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with. Read more about it and obtain your copy from Ian Itter Australian Short run Publications by looking up his website. You will see that Ian is an expert in all things Herbert Austin and is quite a character of whom I had the pleasure of meeting last Summer.
Not to take anything away from Ian's undoubtedly fine book, there is another very interesting story about Penryn's journey- 'Telegraph Tourists' compiled and annotated by Winty Calder, the daughter of Frank Wright who with his wife Win saved Penryn when his Austin Seven failed near Daly Waters in the Northern Territory.
This book was written in 1993 following Winty's retracing of the journey.
Tony, I've also got this book and the DVD about his journey (thanks to 'Squeak' on the forum = Russell Curtis) as Penryn Goldman was carrying a 16mm camera an amazing bonus. I like your words 'when his Austin Seven failed' when in fact Penryn drove into a tree stump probably through exhaustion and seriously bent the front axle (having changed the rear axle in the middle of nowhere on a previous occasion). However, although very interesting I found 'Telegraph Tourists' a bit disjointed jumping from one author to another but is a valuable view of events from his rescuers perspective. Incidentally, although I don't recall the exact figures, Penryn managed to sell the remnants of his Austin 7 for an incredibly good price considering what it (and he'd) been through.
James is quite correct in his assessment of the book. It is a very good read and Ian Itter should be applauded in re-issuing it.
I have done quite a lot of research into Penryn Goldman, who later changed his name to Monck, an old family name. He was quite an adventurer, gaining his pilot's licence at eighteen ( in a DH60 Moth 27/60 hp Cirrus 1 )and whom, in his early life, describes himself variously as a student, rancher, author and explorer. Joining the Royal Navy in '39, he rose to the rank of Commander and after WW11 married a baron's daughter. They had three children, two of whom I am in contact with. It is possible that in the future more photographs of the trip may be found.
If anyone is interested in the original 1932 edition I have a good example.
I paid a fortune for the publishers own copy with dustwrapper and now offer my redundant spare. Pm me it will not be cheap. cheers Russell