“What is Cyprus?
An island lying in the north-east corner of the Levant; the key of Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor.”
William Hepworth Dixon was born in Manchester, 30 June 1821. He was a British government official, historian, traveller and well-known travel book writer. He took part in the entire process of the occupation of Cyprus by the British in the summer of 1878, and remained for several months afterwards on the island. Dixon seized this opportunity to get to know Cyprus and its inhabitants and be one of the first to publish his work in England.
Some of his prominent works where: The Holy Land (1865), New America (1867), Free Russia (1870) and British Cyprus (1879).
In British Cyprus, Dixon gives many interesting "first-hand" statements about the state of Cyprus in 1878, the cities and the countryside, as well as its people their customs and problems. On the other hand, he also gives us testimonies about the events of the occupation of Cyprus by the English and its transition from Ottoman rule to English occupation. “At the moment of our coming in, two independent powers existed on the island; each with a home, a citadel, and a place of arms in Nicosia.”
Unlike other British travellers and many of his contemporaries, Dixon failed to approach and understand the people of Cyprus. A deep contrast to his poetic expressions is his pretentious style in his descriptions of the locals, and life in the countryside. His admiration of everything British, his unrealistic theories and judgments put aside, makes this book today a historical source and a quite interesting read.
“But Cyprus is the East. […] In her own line, she has no rival. Crete and Sicily came next to her, but neither of these islands can dispute her crown.”
You can find this book, and many more, in the Research Centre of CVAR.
The 'Book of the Month' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus).