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Johanna Angermeyer (born 1948), American-born author and artist, is best known for her book My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest and for her association with the Galapagosmarker.

Family background

Angermeyer's father Johannes Angermeyer and his four brothers, all artists and musicians, sailed from Hitler’s Germanymarker in 1935 to the Galapagos but, after shipwreck off the coast of Englandmarker, only four of the five made it to the then sparsely inhabited Enchanted Islands where they lived like Robinson Crusoes.

In 1936 Emmasha, Johanna Angermeyer's American mother, married Capitan Marco Aguirre, an aristocrat and famous aviator, whom she met in Lincoln, Nebraskamarker, when he attended the Charles Lindbergh Flying School there. Tragically, in 1938 his plane crashed in the Andes while he was rushing to Emmasha’s side after she gave birth to their son.

In 1939 Emmasha met Johannes Angermeyer, one of the first settlers on the Galapagos Islands, in Ecuadormarker. They married, had a daughter Mary, and planned to live in the remote islands. However, in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbormarker, all American civilians in Ecuador were repatriated. It was during this enforced separation, with her mother in the USA, that Johanna was born. Shortly afterwards her father in Ecuador, unable to return to his island, sickened and died of tuberculosis.

Early years

Johanna was born in Lincoln, Nebraskamarker, and her widowed mother moved their family to Riverside, Californiamarker in the 1950s. Bored at school, eight-year-old Johanna received most of her education roaming the public library where her mother worked in the children’s book section.

In 1960 the family moved back to Quitomarker. Young Johanna dreamed of reaching the Galapagos and learning more about the father she never knew. In 1961 her family made the four-day voyage to from Guayaquilmarker to Santa Cruzmarker in the Galapagos. There Johanna fell in love with her larger-than-life uncles and the pioneering lifestyle but, aged thirteen, she reluctantly returned to school in Quito.

When Johanna finished her studies at El Conservatorio de Musica, she roamed the hills of the capital, giving guitar lessons and teaching at a kindergarten where she began to write and illustrate picture books for children.

Back to the Galapagos

In 1971 she and her family moved to the Galapagos and lived in a ramshackle house in Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island. Johanna sold paintings, worked as a cook aboard a yacht and then as a guide on cruises around the archipelago.

As the world began to discover the Galapagos, Johanna moved to a remote farm in the lush highlands. It was here that she met her English husband when he helped her catch a wild colt. After marrying, they lost an infant daughter and, to get over her grief, Johanna began visiting old timers, capturing their extraordinary tales on tape. These interviews later became part of her first book, My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest, in which she pieces together her parents' complex and romantic lives.

Move to Europe

After twenty years in Ecuador and the Galapagos, Johanna and her husband moved to England where they worked on a remote manor-house on the moors of Cumbriamarker, managed gourmet cruises on barges floating through Europe and finally landed a job with the National Trust, caring for stately homes across the country.

Dr John Treherne, an author, and President of Downing Collegemarker, Cambridgemarker, encouraged Johanna to write. It was while living in William Wordsworth’s House in Cumbria, that she finished writing her book, which was published in 1989.

Moving south to East Sussexmarker where her husband was administrator of Rudyard Kipling’s home "Batemans", Johanna resumed painting and exhibited her work.

She and her husband now live in the English countryside, with a host of animals. After years of caring for her aged mother, Johanna has resumed work on her second book and is writing and illustrating children’s books about the Galapagos. She works from a cabin at the edge of the woods, entertained by bird song, her dogs snoring at her feet. Concerned with conservation and animal welfare, Johanna and her husband often return to the Galapagos where they maintain their family links.

References

  • Angermeyer, Johanna. (1989). My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest. Viking: London. ISBN 0670827320
  • Treherne, John. (1983). The Galapagos Affair. Jonathan Cape: London. ISBN 0224020609


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