HOWELL'S ICELAND (1890 - 1901)
by Frank Ponzi
Many Victorians made pilgrimages to the "land of the sagas" during the 19th century. One of them was Frederick W. W. Howell, a young, adventuresome British schoolmaster who would be the first to climb Iceland's highest elevation of Hvannadalshnúkur in 1891 and in 1899, the first to lead a walking-party across the glacier of Langjökull. As a guide to Victorian travellers he was to die in a drowning accident in 1901 leaving behind a legacy of glass-plate photographs. Besides portraying the land, its inhabitants and the sagasteads, these images also depicted the beginnings of change taking place to a long traditional way-of-life now virtually extinct. Using Howell's scattered photographs and a variety of visual and textual material, the author, art historian Frank Ponzi, evokes here Howell's brief life and an important decade of Icelandic history.
Having both English and Icelandic texts, this large format edition (11½ x 12½ in.) contains 214 pages of 376 photographs with additional illustrations and maps.
Published by Brennholt, 2004.
The family at Brattholt was photographed by Howell in 1898. At this time Brattholt was the home of today´s legendary Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who, unbeknownst to him, would later save the nation's natural treasure of Gullfoss (Golden Falls) from falling into commercial hands wanting to exploit its water-power potential. The prescient "ecological" heroine is seen framed in the Brattholt doorway seated at right with her mother and sisters. She holds a bouquet of wild native flowers.