Dolly Penguin is a children's book adaptation of the self-published autobiography of Dolly Duncan, Falkland Islands resident until the 1960s. I found her autobiography in a charity shop and was soon immersed in her world of pirates, penguins, and exploration of the rugged and isolated Falkland Islands. She lived on various locations around the islands, primarily on New Island, but spent time on Weddell Island, Speedwell Island, George Island and Saunders Island as well. The book preserves her stories and aims to present them to a young and modern audience. 
My name is Dolly Penguin. Well, no that’s not entirely true. 

My real name is Dolly MacRae-Scott-Duncan. But I like Dolly Penguin better. 

I come from a far, distant colony called the Falkland Islands. 

When the early settlers arrived to the islands, the only animals that could not fly or swim on the islands were foxes with brown fur and yellow-tipped ears. These became extinct over the next years as more settlers arrived and made the islands their home. 

There are lots of different plants and flowers on the island. Diddle Dee grows everywhere, and it’s berries can be made into pies and jam. There is also sea cabbage, tea berries (the thought of a tea berry tart makes my mouth water!), wild strawberries, and white grass.

There is also Christmas bush, with pale yellow flowers that we use to decorate the house at Christmas time. Of the flowers that grow on the island the ones I remember the best are dusty millers, vanilla daisy and pale maidens. They have a lovely smell. 

These days, the islands are home to more sheep than any other plant or animal. There are over 300,000 sheep on the islands, and only 2,000 islanders! 

Among these islanders was my Granny, Granny Cull. She settled on an island way out in the west, called New Island. Old maps show her as the owner of this small island, and she lived in a little stone house that looked out towards the sea. 

I don’t know when or why Granny’s stone house was built, but she told me that it used to be used by real life pirates! Whether or not any of them ever recovered, we also don’t know. It was thought the last owners had been fighting over some gold coins dropped into the harbour by men fighting in a dinghy.

My Mum and Dad were married in Granny’s little stone house, and moved into a newly built house next door. That’s where I lived with my three brothers, George, Bert and Den. 

Because I was the only girl, I was always dressed like a little lady. But dresses are not designed for climbing and sliding and exploring, and I would always end up with wet and torn clothes. Mum would ask us why we couldn’t keep clean like George did (he was an expert at keeping clean). 

One day, we went to play at the beach and all went home with wet clothes, apart from George. Mum asked us why we couldn’t be like George who was perfectly clean and dry. She didn’t know that he had taken his clothes off to learn how to swim, and we weren't allowed to tell her as she would be worried. 

There were hundreds of penguins on the island. We would go and collect their eggs to eat for breakfast. They don’t taste much different than chicken eggs, and we would eat them scrambled, fried, in an omelet, or any other way we liked! 

On the island, there was no school. We would have a teacher come for a month each year, and he would give us all our work for the year and mark what we had done over the past year. Our teacher, Mr. Daley, would make us learn our alphabet and times tables backwards, then forwards until we knew them by heart. I always practiced my tables like a nursery rhyme, that way I knew them forever. 

Boats were the main way of transport on the islands, and we would take them to get to the main Island when there was festivals being held. I remember the Centinerary (that’s 100 years) of the Falkland Islands, and the celebration that was held in town. There was dancing, mountains of food, and best of all- the shops. 
In town, you could go the pictures for six pence or buy six lemonade bottles at the fizz factory, which was just around the back of the theater. You could get a bag of sweets at MacAtasney and Sedwick, a loaf of bread, and a pint of milk all for one penny each. 

And there was even a fireworks display over the sea. 

One day, about 30 killer whales got stranded in the bay. Everyone went down to try and get them back to sea, not an easy task as they could be up to twenty feet long. At high tide, we all shouted and splashed about in the water and used ropes and boats to pull the whales back to sea. They didn’t save very many as they came back to the beach as soon as they were let go. We were glad our house was not near the sea. 

Despite the islands being so remote, there was never any shortage of animals to discover. Just between the beach and the jetty, you could find kelp geese, loggerhead ducks, grey rums, sheathbulls, dolphins, dominican ducks, plover and petrol. 

On walks, you would find meadow larks, tussic birds, thrushes, robins, and johnny rocks. And on the tip top of the cliffs, you could find penguins (my favorite), giant petrels and molly mocks standing firmly on their nests, looking at you as if to say ‘this is our home and we are not moving!’ 

When we lived on George Island, the tussic birds became my friends. They would come in through my open window and sing songs as I got ready in the morning. 

Sea lions and elephant seals also called the islands their home. They would never move for us to pass, especially the elephant seals who were too big and fat to even think about moving.

After 30 years of calling the Falklands home, myself and my brothers had began to work, we decided to leave the islands. 
From the deck of a great big steam ship we waved goodbye to the Islands that had been home all of my life.

While I sailed off, I remembered a quote we said in my family: 

‘The only thing you should regret when dying is not having lived’

of that I am not guilty.

-Dolly Penguin

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