Log of a Happy Girl
or the story of the girl stowaway
3 October 2017
Have you ever considered using our Ask a Librarian service, and wondered how we might go about answering your question? All questions are different, but here’s an example of how we might complete the research.
This question came from someone who had already done quite a bit of searching without success.
I am looking for a publication (book?) by a Jeanne Day (or maybe Jennie Day or Jean Jeinnie) who was a stowaway on the square-rigger Herzogin Cecilie and referenced in Alan Villiers' book Falmouth for Orders, though not by name. The work written by this woman was called The Log of a Happy Girl. I've searched the web rather extensively but haven't found anything definite on the book except an occasional reference to the title and the author's name.
Starting the research
Falmouth for orders : the story of the last clipper ship race around Cape Horn, by Alan Villiers, is an account of his adventures as a crew member on the Herzogin Cecilie. The book is about the 1928 race between the two four-masted barques Beatrice and Herzogin Cecilie, from Port Lincoln in South Australia to Falmouth, Cornwall. Chapters 4 and 5, ‘We Discover a Stowaway’ and ‘Her Story,’ had sparked some interest, and the questioner had discovered that the stowaway had written an account titled The Log of a Happy Girl.
As a first step, I looked for The Log of a Happy Girl in the National Library Catalogue and other Australian libraries with Trove. It was not in these databases, or in the international catalogue, WorldCat. Searches in online bookshops, such as those found in bookfinder.com, were also unsuccessful.
The National Library holds the Papers of Alan Villiers 1900-1980, which includes a set of journals. Kate Lance, when writing the biography, Alan Villiers : voyager of the winds , had examined these journals, and had noted the “girl stowaway.”
Villiers visited Jeanne to interview her for the Daily Mail, and a week later received eight guineas for ‘Log of a Happy Girl’. She was asked to write several stories and wanted Villiers to help her.
This seems to indicate that Villiers wrote the story and sold it to the Daily Mail. The story was not included in any other part of the Villiers papers. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to the Daily Mail archives for 1928, so I was unable to check if the newspaper published the story. Trove newspapers show reports on the subject which were originally published by the Daily Mail, for example, Why I stowed away in The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 8.
Expanding the search
I decided to broaden my search and came across the same websites as the enquirer may have already seen, for example, Herzogin Cecilie at submerged.co.uk.
One promising lead was in the Trove newspaper article, Correspondence. (1928, August 30). The Wooroora Producer (Balaklava, SA : 1909 - 1940), p. 3.
This is a letter to the editor from Jeanne Day which mentions “my book” Log of a Happy Girl. There is no publisher given and there is no advertising for it in any of the newspapers, but as we discovered in the Villiers biography, it may have been ghost written by Villiers himself. I could not find a record of it being published as a separate story or book.
Jeanne’s letter also mentions that the whole story with pictures is in the Wide World Magazine, and according to Voyager of the Winds, Jeanne Day received £20 for the story (p.50).
The wide world magazine : an illustrated monthly of true narrative, travel, customs, and sport is in the National Library's collection and contains the two-part story, published in two bound volumes:
"The Girl Stowaway of the Cecilie" by Jeanne Day, Part 1, Volume 61, September 1928, pages 436-445
"The Girl Stowaway of the Cecilie" by Jeanne Day, Part 2, Volume 62, October 1928, pages 66-72.
Alan Villiers is not cited in either of these installments, but the magazine proclaims, “The newspapers were full of references to this remarkable escapade…but it has been left to the Wide World Magazine to publish the plucky girl’s own full story of her experiences.”
In Falmouth for Orders, the chapter “Her Story” is told from Jeanne’s point of view, but it is not the same as the longer story printed in the Wide World Magazine.
There are many reports of the “girl stowaway” in Trove newspapers; Girl who stowed away in the Port Lincoln Times, 15 June 1928, is one account.
In 1927, Jeanne, who was a music teacher, visited the Herzogin Cecilie and other ships docked in Port Lincoln. She wrote that "it was not at all uncommon...for parties to go to look over these ships on Saturdays and Sundays." Jeanne was “strangely drawn” to the Herzogin Cecilie, but after discreet enquiries found that a woman would never be allowed to sail in a Cape Horn sailing ship.
Jeanne dressed up as a man, pretended she was Finnish and couldn’t speak English. She also acted as if she was drunk, and an old fisherman took her aboard the ship where she “sank into a deep shadow.” Jeanne was soon hungry and thirsty and showed herself. She later took part in shipboard life as a “cabin boy.”
Another side to the story is the inference in the Villiers biography and journals that he did not really like this girl stowaway. Sailors were superstitious and thought that women would bring bad luck, but there may also have been some professional jealousy in that the stowaway received a lot of attention. Villiers, who was writing his own story, may not have welcomed this attention.
While the outcome to this question may not be wholly satisfactory, it is not precisely a dead end. We found a version of the story in the Wide World Magazine and could offer a copy of that item, even though the Log of a Happy Girl remains elusive.
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Cover image: Searle, E. W. (1926). Finnish four masted barque Herzogin Cecilie under full sail, ca. 1930. nla.gov.au/nla.obj-141945436