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Dancing with the Dead: A Journey Through Zanzibar and Madagascar
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Author: Helena Drysdale.
Photographer: Richard Pomeroy.
ISBN-10: 0-241-12954-0 (0241129540)
ISBN-13: 978-0-241-12954-8 (9780241129548)
Language: English
No. of Pages: 273 + 16 colour plates
Dimensions: 142mm x 223mm x 27mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 139
Shelving Location: Travel
Estimated Value: £12.00
Purchase Date: 28 October 2002
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Price Paid: Log In to view this

Dancing with the Dead

A Journey Through Zanzibar and Madagascar

Penguin / Hamish Hamilton (1991).
Hardcover Book with Dust Jacket

Text from the Front Flap

Helena Drysdale was leaving for Madagascar when family papers in a crumbling house in Devon revealed her ancestors traded there during the nineteenth century. There were hints of piracy and slave trading. Madagascar was not only their haunt: there was also Zanzibar, with its plump sultans, and the Comoro Islands. Helena and her photographer husband, Richard Pomeroy, set off to follow in their wake and seek out any lingering family connections.

On dhows, cargo boats, dug-out canoes, in lorries and on foot, their journey took them from old colonial Mombasa to the labyrinthine alleys of Zanzibar, from Moslem ceremonies of 'second marriage' in the Comoro Islands to ancestor-worship in Madagascar and annual exhumations of the dead. They are travellers in a traveller's world: everyone has come by sea from somewhere else; everyone shares ancestral dreams of leaving and arriving.

This is not only a story of the wilder parts of these Indian Ocean islands, of their culture and history, but also a story of our relationship with our ancestors to some numbered cemetery plot, are we losing our sense of belonging anywhere?

Dancing with the Dead is intensely romantic and utterly delightful. Helena Drysdale writes with a freshness and vigour which makes every page of this unusual and engaging travel book sparkle with pleasure.

About the Author (from the Back Flap)

Helena Drysdale was born in 1960 and studies History and Art History at Trinity College, Cambridge. She worked as an art critic and journalist before embarking on full-time travelling and writing. She is author of Alone Through China and Tibet. Granada Television have broadcast a 50-minute film, Dancing with the Dead, written and presented by Helena Drysdale, as part of their Compass series.

Richard Pomeroy was born in 1960 and studied Art History at Manchester University. He is a photographer and dealer in contemporary art.

They are married and live in London.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Maps
  • Chasing Shadows
  • Mombasa
  • Dar Es Salaam
  • Zanzibar
  • Comoro Islands
  • Madagascar - Antananarivo
  • Down the East Coast
  • In the Highlands
  • The North West
  • The North
  • On the Pirate Trail
  • Appendix: Nineteenth century rulers of Zanzibar and Madagascar
  • Glossary of Swahili and Malagasy words


  • Title page signed by the author: "with best wishes from Helena Drysdale".
  • On the dustjacket the book is subtitled "A Journey Through Zanzibar and Madagascar", while on the title page the subtitle is subtly different: "A Journey to Zanzibar and Madagascar".

Condition of Item

Very good to fine with very good dust jacket.

Refer to the glossary for definitions of terms used to describe the condition of items.


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