The Publisher

Gerard A. Besson’s interest in Trinidad and Tobago’s history was sparked by an invitation to do research for and to help compile a history of the Valleton de Boissière family in Trinidad, a family which was approaching its bi-centennial in the New World in 1981. This body of work was undertaken by Michael Pocock. As a result, we came into contact with historian Mrs. Olga Mavrogordato, who also contributed to Michael Pocock’s work, which was subsequently published in 1993 under the title, “Out of the Shadows of the Past”. The interest in publishing Trinidad’s history was accommodated by owning an advertising agency – Creative Advertising – which contained a small printing establishment. The name Paria Publishing had been inspired by a visit to Paria Bay on the north coast of Trinidad in the early 1970s. This took place over an Easter weekend, when dozens of Leatherback Turtles came out of the phosphorent Caribbean Sea to lay their eggs. This inspired a design of a boy riding on a turtle, which was later illustrated by Stuart Hahn. This design became the symbol for Paria Publishing Company. The first book to be written, printed and published by Gerard A. Besson was “Tales of the Paria Main Road”, a collection of stories inspired by his experiences on the north coast hikes, illustrated by Stuart Hahn. This book pre-dated the founding of Paria Publishing and was produced in-house at Creative Advertising in 1974. Paria Publishing Company was founded in 1981.     Olga Mavrogordato, historian and author, then well into her 80s, acted as an inspiration to our commencement in publishing, and became the editor, proofreader, archivist and principal informant for many of our early publications. The idea of creating a publishing company was prompted by the then approaching 200th anniversary of the Cedula of Population (1783-1983). This document, issued by the Spanish crown, caused a population to form in the almost deserted Trinidad of the day, and has been described by Prof. Carl Campbell of the University of the West Indies, in his book “Cedulants and Capitulants” as our first constitution. The forming of the company was also intended to be a memorial to Philippe Rose Roume de St. Laurent who was instrumental in the issuing of the Cedula of Population of 1783. We decided that we would reproduce out-of-print and seminal work on Trinidad and Tobago as well as other work of a historical nature to commemorate this significant event, which created a population and established an economy, while putting into place the cultural and social forms which are today recognized as indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago. Paria Publishing has continued to do this work for over 30 years.           As such, the first books published were republications of “The History of Trinidad under the Spanish Government” by Pierre Gustave Louis Borde, and “Free Mulatto” by J.B. Phillippe. These were followed by “This Old House” by Gerald Watterson, a collection of drawings of Trinidad’s built heritage; “A Photograph Album of Trinidad at the Turn of the 19th Century” by Gerard A. Besson, a collection of 19th century photographs with appropriate texts; and the video production of “The Life and Times of Michel-Jean Cazabon”, two documentary programmes produced for television of the works of the 19th century watercolorist. A milestone publication was the 1987 “From Colonial to Republic” (the history of Republic Bank), which was the first in a series of corporate history publications that Paria Publishing was to undertake over the years.           Gerard A. Besson has since published the works of several Trinidadian authors. The selection criteria for Paria Publishing Company, particularly in its formative phase, was to work with authors who were engaged in writing the history Trinidad and Tobago. Over time, other categories of books have been published by the company, such as textbooks, business books, and art books, as well as collections of historical prints, herbal and folklore calendars, and historical maps of both Trinidad and Tobago.

Actual size: 22" x 28"

Historical maps of Trinidad and Tobago, showing flora, fauna, archaeological sites and folklore characters, were designed by Gerard Besson and illustrated by Peter Shim, Jeffrey Pataysingh and Lima Cole. Tobago is based on an archaeological research paper written by Dr. Ari Boomert, archaeologist, while at the University of the West Indies. Trinidad is based primarily on the Forestry Department's map of the island, as well as various papers.

Soon to come: Purchase prints of these maps online! (US$ 20.00)


Paria Publishing The Publisher