In the 1920s and 30s, there were a few adventurous colonials who catered to wealthy tourists who wanted to go on safaris to shoot big game. Among them were Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway. The guides they used were white Kenyans, British mostly, who knew the country; one of those was also a glamorous young female aviator, Beryl Markham, who scouted by flying her plane ahead of those on safari, and who delivered mail around the Kenyan colony. She was fearless, loved by many men, but known well by only a few. Beryl once flew across Africa to Britain, and then on a dare, flew alone across the Atlantic, becoming the first person to make the crossing east to west. Beryl continued to California, lived among celebrities in Hollywood, and eventually wrote a haunting novel of her life in East Africa. Earnest Hemingway praised that novel, West with the Night, as more a poem than a narrative book.
While I lived in Mombasa, I befriended a British resident who was completing a biography of Beryl Markham. My friend uncovered evidence that a Hollywood writer with whom Beryl lived in Hollywood wrote the book from the stories Beryl told him. It doesn’t matter who penned it; the book is guaranteed to awaken the romantic impulse many have to explore Kenya and learn about its colorful colonial history.