Author talks on new 'Hermit' book

Aug 05, 2019
Jeffrey Ryan

ROCKLAND — On Thursday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. Maine author and historian Jeffrey Ryan talks on his soon-to-be published book, "Hermit: the Mysterious Life of Jim Wyte," in the community room of the Rockland Public Library. The book, which tells the story of a fascinating man who moved to Monson, Maine in 1895, has caught the attention of historians and reviewers on a national scale.

Based on a true story, "Hermit" weaves a tale almost too fantastic to be believed. When Jim Whyte settled outside the slate mining town of Monson, people hardly knew what to make of him. Almost 130 years later, we still don’t. A world traveler that spoke six languages fluently, Whyte came to town with sacks full of money and a fierce desire to keep to himself. It was clear that Whyte was hiding from something — enough to make even the FBI eventually come looking. But even the Feds couldn’t imagine how Whyte, who lost every penny he had when WWI broke out, amassed another fortune before he died. Hermit follows one man’s quest to discover all he can about Whyte’s secret life before it’s too late.

Ryan, author of several books, including "Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail" (Down East Books, 2016) and "Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail" (Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 2017), said, “I happened upon a reference to Jim Whyte when I was researching my earlier books and thought it might be an interesting story. I had no idea how interesting and unlikely the tale would become. Incredibly, Whyte lived a secret double life involving frequent trips to New York City with almost nobody being the wiser. How he was making his money will certainly intrigue modern readers.

Maine State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth said, “The author takes us back to the mid-20th century in the Maine woods with a descriptive force and a gentle nostalgia that realistically evoke both time and place. ‘Hermit' will resonate with many readers who have experienced the mystique and beauty of the Maine wilderness.

Rockland Public Library is located at 80 Union St. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 594-0310.


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