Lives Remembered: Amy Baumann
Tuesday 31 March 2009
Amy Baumann, author of A Valley Wide, the recently published memoir about her life in a remote part of Ibiza in the early 1960s, died on Sunday in Wigtown, Scotland, following a stroke two weeks earlier.
Amy was pleased with the positive response to her memoir when it was published by Ibiza's Barbary Press for the first time last November, 45 years after she finished writing it. The translation into Spanish by Eva María Rios Castillo also gave her great pleasure.
"The books arrived today, and I'm delighted!" she wrote to her publisher. "I've kept getting immersed in both versions, to the neglect of daily tasks. As you say, it's been a long wait, but well worth it – thanks for your confidence and tenacity."
A Valley Wide , written under the name Alexis Brown, records the triumphs and misadventures of her three-year stay in San Vicente – getting to know locals, teaching the children, exploring the bay and alluring countryside, making ends meet, and observing numerous local traditions on the verge of disappearing. It also describes the construction of the asphalt road which linked this remote valley with the outside world.
Amy Baumann (née Brown) was born in rural Shropshire in 1922. During the Second World War she served in the Women's Land Army and subsequently trained and worked as a teacher. In the late 1950s she settled in Formentera with her husband, the poet and historian Jack Beeching (1922–2001), and their two children, moving on to San Vicente in Ibiza several years later. She also wrote two adventure novels for children, Treasure in Devils' Bay (1962) and Schooner on the Rocks (1966), and translated various books from the Spanish, Dutch and German, including Alexander Exquemelin's The Buccaneers of America.
In the late 1970s she moved to Fife, where she worked for 10 years at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Last year she settled in Wigtown, where her daughter Laura runs one of the second-hand bookshops that have made the place known to book-lovers from all over the world. Amy's love of language was marked by a collection of poems, Special Occasions (2007). She is survived by her daughter Laura ("Flora" in A Valley Wide) and her son John ("Peter"), as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her daughter said: "There will be no funeral, since Amy bequeathed her body to medical research, but we hope to hold a memorial walk on Cambo beach in Fife, her favourite walk and where we remembered her husband Henry Baumann after his death. This may well be on 14 May, which would have been Amy's 87th birthday. We will confirm nearer the time."
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