Barbara Townsend has had a lifelong love of reading and writing stories. She has been a librarian, a teacher to people from three to seventy years, a textbook writer, and a facilitator of creative writing for children, farmworkers and students from Gabon. Her aim in this facilitation work, and in her subsequent writing, is to give a voice to people who might otherwise be forgotten and to tell the lesser-known histories of South Africa. Ida's Line and Out of Mind – a story of Robben Island, her first two novels are about such histories. She is contemplating a third novel while she works on an anthology of poetry.

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Ida's Line 
By Barbara Townsend

Ida's Line is a historic novel set in South Africa, between 1930 and 1948, during a period of growing fascism and racial hatred for all people not regarded as European. Ida Joubert, a young woman coming of age in Oudtshoorn, openly rejects these racist views. She also challenges the prevailing patriarchal attitudes towards women. This brings her into constant conflict with her white, middle-class family, particularly her father. When Ida introduces the man she loves to her parents, matters comes to a head. Reuben May is a mixed race teacher who wants to marry her. Which will Ida choose: love or family?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of mind
By Barbara Townsend

Out of Mind – a story of  Robben Island  is set in the years 1908 to 1909, during the period that the colonial government used the Island as a secure place of isolation for people with leprosy, and patients suffering from mental afflictions. Out of sight, out of mind of the good people of Cape Town.

All the working people on the Island except the lighthouse keeper, shopkeeper, priests, teachers, and the girl, Leentjie who was regarded as  “extra”, are employed to maintain the system of incarceration: the skipper who ships the patients  from Cape Town to the asylums and settlements on the Island, the constables, leper and lunatic guards and attendants, the clerks who keep meticulous records , and the medical staff.  Apart from occasional days of leave when they can escape by ferry across the often treacherous seas to Cape Town, they are all essentially trapped in their small community where they are obliged to interact in the course of their daily duties. People are always watching and very little of what they do escapes the notice of others, particularly the notice and censure of the Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer who head the hierarchy of civil servants. They decide who can stay and who must leave.

Reggie van Riet, the diligent new senior clerk, arrives on the Island determined to do his best. On his very first day he meets Vera Godwin, the theatre sister, and despite her aloof response, he is smitten. But there is “a story” about her, and as the plot unfolds, this and the dark secrets and lies of other characters are revealed against the backdrop of the bleak, sinister Island which has its own dreadful past. What will happen when the truth is uncovered?

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