Tynwald Library was the setting on Tuesday November 15 for the launch of The Struggle for Manx Democracy, by Dr Robert Fyson.
Commissioned by Culture Vannin the book details the struggle during the 19th century for popular elections in the Isle of Man, its launch in 2016 coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the House of Keys Election Act of 1866 that would ‘render the House of Keys elective’.
Welcoming eminent historian Dr Fyson the President of Tynwald the Hon Steve Rodan MLC said it was ‘an honour to have the book launched in the precincts of the Legislature’ and went on to praise the author for producing such a well-researched account which detailed the struggles endured by campaigners for Manx democratic reform including Isle of Man Times founder James Brown and Robert Fargher - both imprisoned in Castle Rushen for their belief in the principle of popular elections - and chronicled ‘the first stirrings of democracy in the Isle of Man.’
Charles Guard, a former leading figure in the Manx Heritage Foundation, (now Culture Vannin) and architect of the project to see the book published, spoke of Dr Fyson’s ‘impeccable quality of academic research’ and how he had produced a work that was ‘eminently readable’.
In his reply Dr Fyson spoke of how the diary of James Brown - written during the seven weeks he spent imprisoned in Castle Rushen in 1864 and discovered in 2008 - had served as the starting point for his book, which had been three years in the making, and he expressed his thanks to members of the Brown family for their cooperation, to Culture Vannin for making the project possible, and to the Tynwald Library for accommodating the launch.
Bringing the proceedings to a close the Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, echoed Mr President’s sentiments and said Dr Fyson’s book had succeeded in ‘shining a light on the journey towards democratic reform in the Isle of Man.’
Dr Robert Fyson: The Struggle for Manx Democracy. Culture Vannin. On sale at the Tynwald Library, priced £14.99.
Dr Fyson is pictured with the President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan MLC, at the launch of his book, The Struggle for Manx Democracy. Photo Paul Dougherty, Tynwald Seneschal