By Joyce Barkhouse
"Twelve months in anyplace, my good friend, is kind of a weary whereas And turns out extra like a century while lived on Sable Isle ..."
So wrote Thomas Raddall on the age of eighteen, no longer dreaming that decades later Sable Island -- that "hell in the world" -- would supply a romantic historical past for one among his maximum novels, The Nymph and the Lamp.
Traumatized via the horror of the good Halifax Explosion of 1917, in a couple of months through the dying of his father in conflict in a foreign country, Tom used to be compelled to depart college on the age of fourteen.
This short account of his lifestyles tells of his early adventures and of the way he turned one in every of Canada's most famed storytellers.
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Additional resources for A Name for Himself. A Biography of Thomas Head Raddall
Still, the business of mending cables lying at the bottom of the ocean was cold, rough, dirty work, and meant long months at sea at a stretch. The process of dragging a grapnel over the ocean floor until the cable was hooked and then hauling it to the surface could only be carried out when the ocean was reasonably calm. Tom was glad when the ship had to put into Halifax Harbour for a re-fit. His mother and his sisters had returned to England, and he was on his own. He slept aboard ship, but he was free to prowl around and investigate the life of the waterfront.
And yet the seed of his ambition to become a great writer had already been planted in his unconscious mind. While at Camper down he had bought an old second-hand typewriter for ten dollars. He really hadn’t forgotten that his father had said he should have a career in journalism. Now, for the first time since his father’s death, Tom felt some relief from his financial responsibilities towards his family. His two sisters, Nellie and Winifred, had taken courses in typing and stenography. Both had found employment in Halifax.
Many years later Thomas Raddall described what happened: … we felt two distinct shocks. The first was a sort of earthquake in which the floor seemed to rise and drop. … A few seconds later the air blast smote us. In the same order there were two tremendous noises, first a deep grumble from the ground and then an ear-splitting bang … It was like being shaken by a maniac giant with one fist and then slammed on your head with the other. I was able to move and talk rationally, but the concussion left me in a dazed state for many hours, during which I regarded strange and horrible sights as calmly as if they happened every day.