Elma Napier, Papillote Press


It is 50 years this month since the death of Elma Napier, writer, pioneering environmentalist, and the first woman to sit in a West Indian House of Assembly. She arrived in Dominica via Scotland, her birthplace; Australia where she went with her first husband; Tahiti where she travelled with her second husband, Lennox Napier, and London. Her home in Dominica was in Calibishie, where she built her house, Pointe Baptiste in the 1930s. And her memoir, Black and White Sands, published by Papillote Press, in 2009, tells of her rich and rare life there.

Dominica is good at seducing outsiders; it is also good at spitting them out again. Elma said that Dominica had a “mysterious charm that has lured some people to stay forever, and from which others have fled without even taking time to unpack”. Elma Napier stayed forever, living there until her death on 12 November 1973, aged 81.

This article was written about Elma Napier, Pointe Baptiste and Dominica for the UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2009, by Polly Pattullo, the publisher of Papillote Press.