I Married Adventure – makes scents!

Today while I was visiting a few other blogs, I came across this in The Paris Hotel Boutique Journal.   No wonder our copies of I Married Adventure have been flying off the shelves!   Osa Johnson’s wonderful story of her life of adventure with her photographer husband Martin as they traveled the world has now inspired a perfume which is being touted in Oprah’s magazine.

If you are a regular visitor here, you may remember my posting on the books of Osa and Martin Johnson which appeared here on April 17, 2010.

Osa was a natural beauty, so I’m sure she wouldn’t mind having a perfume inspired by her life.  But she was also a courageous and intelligent woman, whose spirit of adventure lives on in her books and the gorgeous photography accomplished by her and her husband.

Osa Johnson in Hawaiian costume

Their books are perennial favorites,  especially Osa’s I Married Adventure. Beyond the eye-catching zebra pattern binding, the book is much more than a nice decorating piece.  It is an engrossing tale of their early life, their marriage, a perilous voyage across the Pacific in Jack London’s Snark, and numerous adventures as they filmed documentaries of then-unknown lands and people in the South Pacific islands and in later in Africa.

Osa and native Borneo girl with baby Gibbon Ape

Osa’s Four Years in Paradise (1941) is another ever-popular book, bound in a brown and beige giraffe pattern.  It covers their second stay in Kenya from 1924 to 1927 at a lake they dubbed “Paradise” near Mt. Marsabit.

Osa on a tame zebra on her first trip to Africa (1921)

Osa with a baby giraffe (just born)

Both of them learned to fly in their home airfield of Chanute, Kansas, and from 1933 to 1934 flew the length of Africa filming the Mbuti tribe and the gorillas of the Alumbongo Hills, and aerial scenes of large herds of elephants and giraffes.  They both had airplanes, and they were the first to film aerial views of Mount Kiliminjaro and Mount Kenya.

Mt. Kenya from Osa's plane

The "Spirit of Africa" and "Osa's Ark" on a flight over Mt. Kenya

Extensive information on the Johnson’s books, articles and films can be viewed here.

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The Legacy of Martin and Osa Johnson

One of the most popular collectible books we have sold over the years at Old Scrolls Book Shop is I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson (Lippincott, 1940).   The first edition has a very distinctive brown and beige zebra stripe cloth buckram binding (some of the early reprints and book club editions have the same or similar binding).  Once fairly common, it has become difficult to find clean solid copies of this book, especially in its original dustjacket.   The book was published in ten languages for its 1940 release; it became a New York Times best-seller, and was made into movie by Columbia Studios.  Today it remains ranked by the National Geographic Society as one of the “Top 100 Adventure Books” ever written.

(Lippincott book club edition, 1940)

Osa’s story begins with growing up in Kansas, meeting Martin, their marriage in 1910, and their travels by air, land and sea to the far corners of the earth to photograph isolated pockets of humanity and wild animals.   It includes the tale of Martin’s sea voyage with author Jack London to Hawaii and the South Sea Islands in London’s boat “The Snark”—a trip that turned out to be a wild and dangerous adventure, ending with Jack London hospitalized in Australia with a rare skin disease.

The beautiful Four Years in Paradise is even more difficult to find in jacket.  This too has a unique binding of giraffe spotted buckram cloth.  The jacket has a beautiful wrap-around design depicting a moving herd of elephants.  The book is the story of the years she and Martin spent filming wildlife in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya.

First Edition (Lippincott, 1941)

The Johnsons filmed their adventures and did lecture tours across the United States to rapt audiences.   They explored lands and visited tribes in distant places which had never seen a white man let alone a camera, and brought back stunningly beautiful photographs and knowledge of cultures that were then unknown and have since disappeared.  Martin’s photographs of African wildlife in books such as Lion – African Adventure with the King of Beasts and Safari – A Saga of the African Blue are exquisite.

First Edition, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1929

In 1929 they filmed Congorilla, the first movie with sound shot in Africa.   Ironically, after surviving many exotic and dangerous trips around the world, Martin Johnson was killed in the crash of a commercial airliner in 1937 in Burbank, California.  Osa was also on the plane (along with ten other passengers) and sustained serious injuries, which she survived.

Osa wrote ten books, including six for children; Martin wrote eight books.  A bibliography of all the books written by Osa Johnson Martin Johnson appears here:  http://www.safarimuseum.com/their_books.htm

The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum was opened in Chanute, Kansas in 1961.   The museum houses their films, photographs, expedition reports, correspondence and personal memorabilia, and offers showings of the films made by the Johnsons; they also offer prints of their magnificent photographs for sale on the museum website, as well as DVDs of their films.

Osa died in 1953 in New York City at the age of 58.

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