Monday, 24 August 2015

Marcus Langdon, local historian and author

Here we are at the George Town World Heritage Incoporated (GTWHI) office at the corner of Carnarvon Street and Acheen Street two days ago when we joined in the launch of Marcus Langdon's latest book, George Town's Historic Commercial & Civic Precincts.

This happens to be a most interesting book that is full of information - and pictures - on some of the old historical buildings in the heritage city. It also traced the early development of George Town where Beach Street was originally located next to the sea front before land reclamation set it back and Weld Quay ultimately became the new thoroughfare by the sea.

I first met Langdon about a year ago when we both attended my friend, Kee Thuan Chye's book reading in a house in Malay Street. At that time, I already new that Langdon was carrying out research work on Penang's early history and in fact, already had Penang: Fourth Presidency of India 1805-1830 - his first volume of four - already published.

I had asked him when his second volume would be coming out and he said that he was still trying to find a publisher. Hopefully, he said, by Christmas. But it never happened because of various reasons.

I told him what I thought about the book. How it was fascinating to uncover the small snippets of information on Penang Free School. But too bad, I said, that there was so little information on the school's early years. That must have stirred up something because Langdon suddenly told me that he was devoting one whole chapter in his second volume to the Penang Free School.

If he had thought that the matter would rest there and then, I think that he was surprised when several months later, I made an arrangement to meet him at The Old Frees' Association where we exchanged views about the founding of the school. He offered me a copy of his manuscript, the chapter on the school, on condition that it was not shown to anyone until his book was published. With Volume Two of Penang: Fourth Presidency of India 1805-1830 set to appear anytime soon, most probably within the next month, maybe I can just say enough that Old Frees everywhere should welcome this book's publication. You will not be disappointed with the contents, that I can guarantee you!

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