Author(s): Shona Riddell
Women have a long history of keeping the lights burning, from tending ancient altar flames or bonfires to modern-day lighthouse keeping. Yet most of their stories are little-known.
Guiding Lights includes stories from around the world, such as the dramatic torching of Puysegur Point, one of New Zealand's most inhospitable lighthouses; the two caretakers living alone on Tasmania's wild Maatsuyker Island; the female keeper in charge of Cape Beale on Canada's Vancouver Island (the station receives visits from bears, cougars and wolves); several 'haunted' lighthouses in various US states with tragic tales; the despotic keeper on Clipperton Island, a tiny atoll far off the coast of Mexico; lighthouse accidents and emergencies around the world; and two of the world's most legendary lighthouse women: Ida Lewis (US) and Grace Darling (UK), who risked their lives to save others.
The book also explores our dual perception of lighthouses: are they comforting and romantic beacons symbolising hope and trust, or storm-lashed and forbidding towers with echoes of lonely, mad keepers? Whatever our perception, stories of women's courage and dedication in minding the lights -- then and now -- continue to capture the public's imagination and inspire us.