What has the mother of King Alfred, a famous sailmaker and a seismology pioneer all got in common? They are all among 246 short biographies of ‘notables’ who find themselves in the latest book from Isle of Wight publisher, Beachy Books.

‘Personae Vectenses: Isle of Wight Notables’ is written by Island-born Phillip Armitage and is a labour of love that took him 12 years of research. Personae is full of the famous and no-so-famous, those long gone, and others who are still active in their careers from Alfred Lord Tennyson to Mimi Khalvati, Robert Hooke to Elizabeth Meek.

Phillip explains:

Article continues below this advertisement

“I just kept stumbling across these names in various Isle of Wight books that I collect. And they all had connections to the Island, some famous, others I’d never heard of. I decided that there were so many names with an Isle of Wight link that it was worth putting together as a publication.”

The notable that inspired him first was Dudley Pound…

“I’d never even heard of him so I did some digging around and found out about him. He was Admiral of the Fleet and he defended England against the U-Boat threat. He was born in Wroxall.”

Born on the Island, Phillip was educated here before moving away to go to university and work. He is now retired and living in Worcester, but reaffirms that he is an Islander through and

During Phillip’s research on the book he found more interesting people, such as Earl Spencer. “Surely, he’s nothing to do with the Isle of Wight?” thought Phillip, but he soon discovered a link.

Article continues below this advertisement

“I wondered why he’d built a house here on the Island, and then I did more research and, lo and behold, I found out he was First Lord of the Admiralty, built a house in Ryde so that he could watch the comings and goings out of Portsmouth harbour, which was of course the headquarters of the Navy.”

With so many notables in Personae Vectenses, it’s hard for Phillip to choose a favourite, however one person whom Phillip particularly admires is Mary Ellis. “She did some phenomenal work during the war, flying something like 76 different typesof aircraft including hundreds spitfires and umpteen heavy bombers from the factories or repair works to airfields as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary. She is truly remarkable!”

Phillip hopes Islanders will enjoy the book, and fully expects a bit of debate about who was included, who was left out, however he explains his criteria for including a ‘notable’:

“They had to have lived on the Island for a reasonable amount of time, or have been born there. The most significant thing is, they had to have had an influence on the wider society.”

‘Personae Vectenses: Isle of Wight Notables’ retails at £12.99 and will be officially published on Thursday 17th October 2019. The book will be available at Island retailers including Babushka Books in Shanklin, Medina Books in Cowes, and Isle of Wight Traders and Waterstones in Newport. The book can also be ordered by retailers through Island wholesaler, W J Nigh & Sons Ltd.

The book is also available from Amazon at

For more information visit the Beachy Books website at

Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.

Join our daily newsletter