When I first moved to Edinburgh in 2001, I spent a lot of time in its second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, which were more prevalent then than they are now. On one visit I found a small hardback with a title and author that seemed to come from one of those “awful books” compilations, and picked it up for a pound on a whim.
Back at home, I started reading what turned out to be a ripping yarn of the first order. C. H. Prodgers was an Edwardian adventurer who had gone to South America in search of rubber and gold, and returned with a memory full of anecdotes and landscapes that make surprisingly compelling reading today. It’s no coincidence that he got a mention in a Biggles story.
After devouring Adventures in Bolivia (1922), I looked online for more about the man, discovered the sequel, Adventures in Peru (1924), and bought and read that too. Sadly, Prodgers died before he could complete a promised third volume on his adventures in horse racing, but what he left behind is more than most of us manage.
I always thought it would make a good online project to scan and post Prodgers’ tales, illustrating them as I went. When a few years later I decided to make a start, I discovered that someone had already uploaded the first volume to archive.org, and went a bit cold on the idea. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that a scan in a giant repository of out-of-copyright books, where nobody would ever notice it, was doing the man a disservice. His tales of derring-do deserved something better.
After locating another public domain version of Adventures in Bolivia online, I compared the two in a text-editor to locate and correct their OCR errors, then compared the results against my print copy to produce a clean version. Now, at long last, the time seems right to start posting it here. As the chapters unfold in coming weeks, I’ll include some of my own comments, the original illustrations, and maybe some new ones. You can follow along via the RSS feed or on Twitter. If Bolivia goes well, I’ll move on to Peru.
Settle in, then, for Cecil Herbert Prodgers’ Adventures in Bolivia, in ten thrilling chapters.