A Short History of Cyprus by
Philip Newman (1940)
By Margaret Sheard
I am no historian and also find that history can be quite confusing, however, I have persevered and read a book entitled “A Short History of Cyprus” by Philip Newman. My interest was mainly from the research and many articles I have written about Newman’s Farm in Kyrenia as it was Philip Newman, together with his wife Evelyn, who bought the land, builr a house and started what was to become Newman’s Farm where they lived for 37 years, from 1922 to 1959.
When I received “Evelyn’s Memoirs” from the Newman family, which was published as 5 instalments, I was interested to note that Philip had written a book entitled A Short History of Cyprus and I managed to obtain a second-hand copy of the book which I had delivered to *Richard Chamberlain’s address and he kindly brought it with him on his last visit to North Cyprus. This is the passage from Evelyn’s Memoirs which describes how the writing of the book came about.
One evening in the summer of 1938 Jim and Elinore Stewart invited Philip and me to a sherry party at their lovely cottage at Bellapais. They had come from Australia on an archaeological expedition to excavate a Bronze Age village near the Abbey. The cottage was full of pots and vases they were painstakingly patching together. The guest of the evening was a professor from Cambridge who had come to Cyprus at the request of the Governor, Sir Richmond Palmer, to discuss the writing of a history of the island, for use in schools. Sir Richard was anxious to teach the history of their own land to the young Cypriots. Through the years they had heard only of the glories of ancient Greece, not realising they had an enthralling history of their own. However, the professor could not agree terms about the work, and mentioned this to Philip and me. On the way home I said to Philip, ‘Why don’t you offer to write the history. I know you could do it.’ The idea attracted him and he set about writing at once. When a few chapters were ready he sent the script to the D of E, who was delighted with it and asked him to carry on in the same way. By the next spring the book was complete with maps, plans and pictures of his own drawing. The first edition was available for the schools by the following term, but sad to relate the ‘public’ edition was destroyed in Fleet Street by one of the first air raids in London.
When I received the book I was very touched by the dedication made by Philip Newman which reads:-
“To the Youth of Cyprus including my two sons, Charles and John, who are Cypriots by birth, as their father is by choice”
I think this is a beautiful dedication and shows how much Philip loved Cyprus.
As I have said, I find history quite hard to grasp with all of the dates and especially with the number of conquerors and rulers Cyprus has seen through many centuries dating back to BC but basically it has opened my eyes to the way in which Cyprus has developed through good and bad times, including devastation by locusts and the “black death” plague which swept Europe, there were the Templars and Richard the Lionheart, which conjured up some personal interest I have in these topics, and of course the Lusignans, the Venetians and the Ottomans.
I mainly found the more recent history of interest because this can be related to a lot more easily. Near the end of the book there is a section which is very relevant to the present situation of Cyprus and I have reproduced this below:-
The Enosis Movement. The desire of the Greek-speaking Cypriots for union with Greece, called the Enosis movement, was based on reasons of descent, language, religion and culture, and was in the words of Mr Winston Churchill “an example of the patriotic devotion which so nobly characterizes the Greek nation.” But political realities are not always in line with national aspirations. The British occupation of Cyprus was a result not of the wishes of the people of England, of Turkey or of Cyprus, but of world conditions which lay beyond the power of man to control or to alter.
While the convention of 1878 between England and Turkey held good, Cyprus remained an integral part of the Ottoman Empire and the British Government had no power to consent to the cession of a part of the Sultan’s dominions.
The situation was, however, entirely altered by the outbreak of war in 1914, in which Turkey became at war with England; the convention came to an end and the island of Cyprus was annexed by Great Britain.
It was now possible for Great Britain to do what she would with Cyprus and in the following year the island was offered to Greece on condition of the latter’s entering the war as an ally of Great Britain. The offer was refused and did not remain open.
The annexation was followed immediately by a proclamation conferring British nationality on all Ottoman subjects resident in the island, which was accepted without demur by Moslems as well as Christians. Cyprus became thereby a colony of British subjects, part of whom were Moslems and who had naturally no sympathy with the Enosis movement.
In 1925 Cyprus became a Crown Colony, the title of High Commissioner was abolished, and Sir Malcolm Stevenson became governor of Cyprus.
Meanwhile the aspirations of the Greek-speaking Cypriots to obtain union with Greece were fostered by uncertainty as to the future status of Cyprus. Although on several occasions it was officially announced that Cyprus would remain part of the British Empire, the fact of such announcements being necessary raised hopes among the leaders of the movement that their aims might be achieved through the pressure of a popular demand.
Eventually in 1931 the movement came to a head in a series of riots throughout the island. Troops were drafted from Egypt and order was speedily restored, but not before considerable damage had been done, including the burning of Government House.
The leaders of the disturbance were banished from the island, a sum of £30,000 was imposed as reparation on the non-Moslem population, the Legislative Council was abolished by Letters Patent, and power to legislate was granted to the governor.
Here we are now in the year 2014, and the Cyprus problem continues. It is claimed by some that the Cyprus problem was initiated by Turkey in 1974 when they “invaded” Cyprus but anyone who reads about the island will be aware of the problems in the 1950’s and 1960’s and as can be seen from the above even in 1931 there was unrest. In North Cyprus we prefer to say “intervention” by Turkey to stop the bloodshed.
Turkey intervened and since then there has been relative “peace” in the island, maybe not a solution but still “peace” of a kind, with a divided island and the Turkish Cypriots in the North and the Greek Cypriots in the South living their separate lives, but it is the Turkish Cypriots who have been made to suffer for the lack of a solution with the embargoes placed on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. When will the world wake up.
The extract I have reproduced above was written between 1938 and 1940 when the book was first published. The island was “Cyprus” when Philip Newman lived here, he died here in December 1947 and is buried in the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia. His wife continued to run the farm after Philip’s death until 1959 when she could foresee the problems starting and she took the family back to England. Philip Newman loved Cyprus, I wonder what he would think of this divided island today!
To refer to any of the articles or people mentioned above please see the links below:-
Part 1 – click here
Part 2 – click here
Part 3 – click here
Part 4 – click here
Part 5 – click here
Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia – click here
Newman’s Farm and The Chinese House – click here
In Town Tonight – Lara Newman – click here
Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia (Revised Edition) – click here
Newman’s Farm Remembered – click here
The Man Behind the Camera – click here
Extension of Exhibition – click here
Cyprus Photography – click here