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isobel strong  : surf riding at waikiki, 1905 
Isobel Strong : Surf Riding at Waikiki, 1905.

Extracts from
Strong (Field), Isobel: The Girl from Home - A Story of Honolulu.
McClure, Phillips & Co., New York, 1905.

Published April, 1905.
Copyright, 1905, by The Criterion Publication Company
To my friend  Jeannettt Norris

The Crossroads Bookshop, Ltd., Honolulu, T.H., 1912.
First published in 1906 by Doubleday.

Internet Archive

Isobel Strong published her novel, The Girl from Home - A Story of Honolulu, in April 1905.
The step-daughter of Robert Louis Stephenson, she resided in Honolulu with her husband Joseph Strong from 1882 to 1890, where she was a drawing teacher in the public schools was was known in the local art scene for her drawings and cartoons.
The novel, set during her stay, contains one chapter centred around a night surfing party held at Waikiki by the then king, David Kalakaua.
Night surfing parties were known to be held to coincide with the full moon.
The guests are treated to sumptuous meal, during which the conversation includes a discussion of the ancient sport of hill-sliding.
"Old Kaipo," who the king describes as "the only one left who can come in standing" on a surfboard, announces that the surfing conditions are suitable and  the guests are taken for canoe rides.
Here, Strong's description shares similar elements to Hawaii's Royal Pastime, attritbuted to "O.K.D.," printed in New York's The Sun in 1898.
After they return to the beach, Kalakaua summons Kaipo to give an exhibition of surfboard riding.
The character old "old Kaipo" is possibly based on "Kalahale, the ablest surf-rider on Molokai, is still living in Halawa Valley and at the very advanced age of over seventy years," as reported by James K. in The Hawaiian Gazette of July 28, 1896.

 In May 1891,"Belle" and her husband joined R. L.Stevenson at Vailima, Somoa,  where she worked as his secretary until his death in 1894.
She divorced Joseph in 1892, and by 1899 she had moved to New York .
Here, Isobel filled her apartment with Polynesian artifacts and pursued her literary career.
In addition to articles for various journals and magazine she also produced, with her brother Lloyd, Memories of Vailima (1902), about RLS and their experiences in Samoa, and The Girl from Home (1905).

Although popular in Hawai'i and widely promoted by the local press, the book was initially given a poor review by the Honolulu's Evening Bulletin in August 1905.
An 1912 edition was published in Honolulu and promoted with large advertisements in the Honolulu press, at $1.00 a copy, for the next two years.
The Girl From Home was published in seven editions between 1905 and 1978.

A watercolour by Isobel Osbourne, Allen Herbert's House (1896), is held by the Honolulu Museum of Art
Allen Herbert opened the Hawaiian Hotel, on the corner of Hotel and Richard streets, Honolulu, in early 1872.
In September 1892 he leased a bathouse and three cottages on the beachfront at Waikiki, where "the sea bathing being unsurpassed on the Island" to the then current Hawaiian Hotel management

O.K.D.: Hawaii's Royal Pastime, The Sun, New York, August 14, 1898, page 22.
James K.: From Halawa Valley, The Hawaiian Gazette, July 28, 1896, page 5.


Isobel (Belle) Osbourne (1858-1953) was Robert Louis Stephensonís step-daughter.
She was born in Indianapolis to Samuel and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne.

Both Belle and her mother were interested in art and became art students in Paris. In 1876 Belle, her brother Samuel (Lloyd) Osbourne and Fanny went to an art colony in Grez, France, where Fanny met Robert Louis Stephenson.

Belle married the artist Joseph Strong (1853-1899) in 1879 and gave birth to a son, Austin Strong (1881-1952).
In the 1880s, the Strongs lived first in San Francisco (where they helped give a memorable studio party for Oscar Wilde in the spring of 1882). and Joe Strong came up to stay with the Stevenson party in Silverado and Calistoga where he drew pictures of the miners' cabin and proved "a most good-natured comrade and a capital hand at an omelette".
In 1882 they went to Hawaii.
The Stevensons met up with them there when the Casco arrived in Honolulu in January 1890.
Joe Strong had a drink problem was not an ideal husband; trying to help, RLS took him on the Equator cruise as photographer (July-Deccmber 1889, ending in Samoa) and sent Belle and Austin to Sydney with a small allowance.
Belle later joined Stevenson at Vailima in May 1891, where she became his valued "amanuensis" or secretary.
She and her brother Lloyd wrote about RLS and their experiences in Samoa in Memories of Vailima (1902).

Joe also came to Vailima in May 1891, but his irregular life caused problems.
Belle finally divorced him in 1892.

In 1914, she married her motherís secretary (and possibly lover), the journalist Edward (Ned) Salisbury Field (d. 1936) just six months after Fanny died.
Together, Belle and Ned took Fannyís ashes to Mount Vaea, where Robert Louis Stephenson was buried.
In the 1920s the Fields became rich after they found oil on their land.
Belle wrote her memoirs in This Life Iíve Loved (1937).

Belleís son Austin went on to become a playwright, writing successful Broadway plays such as Drums of Oude (1955) and Seventh Heaven (1922-24).

- RLS Website

- wikipedia.org: Isobel Osbourne

The Girl From Home was published in seven editions between 1905 and 1978.

Alternative Names
Field, Isobel Osbourne
Osbourne, Belle, 1858-1953
Osbourne, Isobel, 1858-1953
Strong, Isobel
Strong, Isobel, 1858-1953

Field, Isobel: This Life I've Loved.
Longmans, Green., New York., 1938.
"R.L. Stevenson's stepdaughter's early days in San Francisco, Hawaii, and with Stevenson in Samoa."

Page 210
Riding the Surf

 SUPPOSE I ought to be getting ready," said Florence.
The whole family were in the bower, where Mrs. Ross had come to complain bitterly that she had not been invited to the (King's) surf-riding party.

"The carriage won't be here till eight o'clock," said Emma, " and it's only half past six."

"I thought we'd have a late dinner to-night," said Mrs. Ross.
"You won't need any for they always give a native feast when there's any Hawaiian entertainment going."

"Perhaps I won't like it, and may not be able to eat anything."

"Yes, you will.
Chicken cooked underground, and fish wrapped in ti leaves and baked on the hot stones are good enough for anybody, and you'll need it, for surf-riding is very exhausting.
I must say I wish Emma were going.
Heaven knows skimming over the top of breakers has no charms for me.
I've seen ...

Page 211

... whole canoe loads of people sent flying through the air, head over heels.
It would not be a very dignified position for a lady of my age."

Page 223

"For my part," said the King, "I would like to advance backwards, so to speak.
We are leaving all that is free and wholesome and noble behind us here in Hawaii.
Even the old sports are finer than anything civilization can offer us.
There is nothing I would like better than to slide down Punchbowl on one of those old Hawaiian sleds you see in the museum.
That is a magnificent feat.
Not that I can do it, but I'd like to try."

Page 224

"You can see the old slides quite plainly on the slope of the mountain," said Florence.
"I was there the other day and noticed them."

"When I was a young girl," observed Mrs. Ross.
"I remember seeing Prince Lunalilo standing erect on a sled and flying down one of the steepest slides.
He was excommunicated from church, I remember, so he had to give it up."

"The first duty of the missionary," growled Dick, "seems to have been a general forbidding of anything that was amusing."

"I have a fine old fellow here to-night," said the King, "who is to ride the surf for us in the old-fashioned manner on a board.
He is the only one left who can come in standing."

Page 226

The incoming tide creamed on the sand before them; the surface of the water shimmered and sparkled, ...

Page 227

... occasionally breaking into wild confusion as the great waves raced in, rising high above the horizon line, and then subsiding and spreading out upon the beach.
Diamond Head towered above them, all the little water courses on its rugged slope glinting like silver threads.
The moon had risen in a clear and starlit sky, painting a pathway across the water to their very feet.
The night was so brilliant that the wild convolvulus that grew upon the edge of the sand showed vividly green, the flowers picked out in sparkling tints of pink and white and blue.

"The sea looks dangerous here," said Florence.
"It seems a fearful turmoil to go out into with a little canoe."

The Hawaiian quartette began to sing, accompanying themselves with guitars and the buzzing little eukaleles.
The pleasant sound floating over the water brought out the rest of the natives from the lanai who threw themselves on the sand to listen to the music, occasionally joining in the chorus, their sweet voices faultlessly true in time and key.

Page 229

There was shouting from the natives on the beach.
Old Kaipo came up to announce that it was time for the surf-riding to begin.
Max quickly bent and kissed Florence's hand before he jumped up to answer the summons. The Bonner girls carried her and Emma off to the house to dress while Curtis laukea took charge of the men.
The King preferred to be a spectator of the sport and kept his seat.
Mrs. Ross, with due regard to her dignity, remained with him; also Mrs. Landry ...

Page 230

... who cared too much for her appearance to risk getting her hair wet.

Numbers of natives, men and girls, were already in the water; rising with the waves or darting through them like fishes.
Out on the beach a group of young fellows had drawn up two canoes opposite the opening in the reef.
The surf-party soon appeared in their bathing suits enveloped in long wraps.

"You must divide into groups," said the King.
" We'll appoint captains, who must choose sides, as you do in charades."

" Oh, no," said Betty Bonner, " let the girls do that."

" You're right," said the King. " Then I appoint you and Miss Van Voorhis."

" I choose Emma ! " said Betty.

" Polly Bonner," said Florence.

"Captain Leigh-Garrett," said Betty again.
Dick hesitated for a moment and then, with a gesture of impatience walked over to her side.

" Mr. Maxwell," said Florence, and when Betty had chosen Curtis she called for Harry.

Florence cast off her wrap into the hands of a native girl and stepped into the canoe.
She clung convulsively to a stout Hawaiian's slippery shoulders as he guided her to a seat that was little more than a slat fastened
across the top.
She and Max, Harry and Polly Bonner ...

Page 231

... were sandwiched in between five natives.
It seemed to Florence as though the whole thing would upset any minute.

" It's all right," shouted Max reassuringly in answer to some inarticulate gasps and screams.
"The outrigger keeps it steady.
Have you your paddle ? "

"Yes, yes," said Florence breathlessly.

There was a great deal of splashing and shouting.
The canoes were pushed out into the water by a crowd of natives while the band played a rollicking air.

" Oh," screamed Florence, to the broad brown back in front of her, " the waves are awful !
This one coming looks as big as a mountain."

The leader called out excitedly.
Harry translated that they must all paddle hard to reach it before it broke.

" It will go right over us ! " she cried.

"Alpine climbing!" shouted Max, as they mounted the slope of the wave, digging their short paddles into the water as though it were a solid substance; they hung dizzily for a moment on the crest and then slid down the other side into the trough of the sea.

Florence was cold at first and not a little frightened, but she clutched the paddle and followed the motions of the man in front of her whose brown back was lumpy with muscles.

Page 232

Another wave loomed up before them; ere they could reach it to climb the side it showed signs of breaking.

" Eka! Aweka maki I " cried the leader.

"Back! Back!" shouted Harry, and they paddled fiercely, the breaking wave foaming all about them.
Then they started off again for the next one with increasing excitement.
Florence began to warm up to the work as she understood what they were trying to do.
Soon she was screaming with the rest : "Makai! Hoki!" as they paddled onward to catch another wave and climb its steep crest, flying down the other side like a sled on an ice path.
They passed seven large rollers, and then came the difficult manoeuvre of turning between the waves without catching a breaker broadside on.
With shouts and screams from the leader, and all paddling on the same side with cries of " Wild! Wild! " they spun around facing the shore just in time to escape a drenching.
As it was they rocked in a smother of foam.

"Keep her head on!" called out Harry above the excited shouts of the Hawaiians.
"If we swerve an inch we'll be knocked into spilikins !"

"I know! I know!" cried Florence excitedly.
They were all looking back over their shoulders waiting for a large unbroken wave.

" We want a big one that will carry us all the way to the shore," cried Polly.

Page 233

" Here comes one ! "

"No, wait," Harry called out. "Follow the leader; when he shouts 'Hoki' go ahead ! "

They allowed several rollers to pass, rising high on the top from whence they could plainly see, in the bright moonlight, the little semicircle on the beach; the group of natives and the band boys on their platform; for an instant only, and then they sank into a deep green hollow.

"Hoki! Hoki! hoi!" cried the leader.
They dug their paddles into the water with all the strength of their arms.
A great wave caught the stern at exactly the right angle and then, with cries of wild exhilaration from every throat the canoe flew towards the shore like an arrow from a bow.
As it raced through the water, still propelled by the one great wave they rose in their seats, brandishing their paddles and screaming with the full force of their lungs.

The canoe grounded quietly on the beach where a group of natives pulled it ashore.
Girls ran to meet them with bath-robes.

" I want to do it all over again ! " cried Florence, as they threw themselves exhausted at the feet of the King and his party.

"It was glorious!" panted Max.
He looked like a handsome friar lying on the sand in his long white robe.

Page 234

"Look! Look!" cried the King. "Here comes the other!"

They rose to their feet looking seaward.
The band played madly, the natives cheered and Florence found herself screaming like the rest as the second canoe came spinning towards them.

" Wasn't that bully ! " cried Betty Bonner as she staggered up the sand.
Some natives came out with trays of glasses and champagne, and while the party rested on the beach old Kaipo, dressed only
in a loin cloth appeared carrying a long smooth board.
Throwing one arm over it he swam out to sea.

"I'm so tired I'm nearly dead!" panted Betty Bonner lying at full length on the sand.

" I feel like a piece of string," said Florence, " but I want to do it again."

" Isn't it very late ? " asked Mrs. Ross.

"Long after midnight," said Dick Leigh-Garrett.
"But this moon will last till morning."

Florence sat up and watched Kaipo's progress.
Only his head could be seen at intervals like a black speck on the burnished silver of the sea.
"He is going faster than you would think," said the King, "for he's a famous swimmer; but of course he cannot make the speed of a canoe full of paddles."

Page 235

Suddenly there was a cry that rose to a shout as Kaipo's dark figure appeared in silhouette against the sky.
He was on his knees at first, but as he neared the shore he rose slowly erect.
The board he stood on was invisible so that he seemed like a god of the air flying towards them, brandishing his paddle aloft like a spear.

Strong (Field), Isobel: 
The Girl from Home - A Story of Honolulu.
McClure, Phillips & Co., New York, 1905.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2012) : Isobel Strong : A Honolulu Story, 1905.

Wednesday, September 26, 1832, London, Middlesex

thus leaving only two -whole days for the purpose of tillage and growing their necessary food.
The Missionaries have prohibited fishing, bathing, Jews' harps, and the surf board, and every other description of amusement among the native population.
In short, civilization a ..

Daily Milwaukee News
Saturday, November 17, 1866, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

thirds no flsh that swims tbe ocean could have any command over itself in breakers where the Wand boys and girls sport for as perfectly at home as on dry land.
The surf board is a piece of thin five or six feet long by about eighteen inches in breadth when the green swells are rolling with terrific ..

Daily Milwaukee News - Thursday, June 18, 1868, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Reprint of Tsumi story, Hilo.

The Advance
Thursday, August 21, 1873, Greenville, Pennsylvania

Reprint of Surfing at Hilo.

Milford Independent
Thursday, September 27, 1877, Milford, Indiana

It is very exciting, but the sea was not yery rough.
The surf board is a rough plank, shaped like a cotlin lid, about two feet broad and from six to nine feet long.
The men, dressed in ...

The Daily Gazette
Thursday, November 12, 1885, Fort Wayne, Indiana

...compelled to abandon his trusty surf-board, and again turning seaward, plunge beneath the make his way... ...swim ashore iu safety. His surf-board is probably reduced to splinters in a few loss which... ...of scarlet blossoms. A good surf-board is about an inch and a half in thickness, about.....

surf-tfider^\ Each carries a surfboard, whicnis^'simply a wooden plank, and raiment is of course... ...- ? pelled to abandon his trusty surf-board, ' and again turning seaward, plunge be- ; neath the wave and... ...swim ashore ' in safety. His surf-board is probably reduced to splinters hi a few secondsó a...

Rushford Spectator , Thursday, February 18, 1886, Rushford, New York
Herald And Torch Light, The - Thursday, December 30, 1886, Hagerstown, Maryland

Logansport Journal - Sunday, June 05, 1887, Logansport, Indiana

on coming up they would swim away to the raft as if they had made no exertion whatever
One of their favorite amusements is riding the surf.
For this they use a surf board five or six feet long and they curvctto like seals among the breakers
Although they have no snow on the islands the

Denton Journal - Saturday, June 18, 1887, Denton, Maryland

Portsmouth Times - Saturday, June 25, 1892, Portsmouth, Ohio

is almost led to suppose they are amphibious. This game involves skill; it is acquired only by com- in the earliest childhood. A standing position on the swiftly gliding surf-board is a feat of skill uever yet sur- passed by any circus rider. Special Announcement. We have made arrangement

Ohio Democrat, The - Thursday, July 14, 1892, New Philadelphia, Ohio
Ohio Democrat, The - Thursday, July 28, 1892, New Philadelphia, Ohio

Hutchinson News - Monday, February 05, 1894, Hutchinson, Kansas

Indiana Democrat, The - Thursday, February 08, 1894, Indiana, Pennsylvania
Cambridge City Tribune - Thursday, February 22, 1894, Cambridge City, Indiana
Hamilton Daily Democrat - Friday, February 23, 1894, Hamilton, Ohio
Daily Nevada State Journal - Saturday, February 24, 1894, Reno, Nevada

Galveston Daily News - Thursday, August 24, 1899, Galveston, Texas

Newport, Coney island nnd Long Uraneh. They swim far out, either lighting the breakers or diving through Ihein. and Ibeii thv.v turn and i-.lthi-r wlih wltlmut a surf board, come riwldly In 1 h.' sliori-. 'o see a group of them springing up as breaker recedes, their biui-blm k hair -hlnln