In 1936 Emmasha, Johanna Angermeyer's American mother, married Capitan Marco Aguirre, an aristocrat and famous aviator, whom she met in Lincoln, Nebraska, when he attended the Charles Lindbergh Flying School there. Tragically, in 1938 his plane crashed in the Andes while he was rushing to Emmasha’s side after she gave birth to their son.
In 1939 Emmasha met Johannes Angermeyer, one of the first settlers on the Galapagos Islands, in Ecuador. They married, had a daughter Mary, and planned to live in the remote islands. However, in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, all American civilians in Ecuador were repatriated. It was during this enforced separation, with her mother in the USA, that Johanna was born. Shortly afterwards her father in Ecuador, unable to return to his island, sickened and died of tuberculosis.
In 1960 the family moved back to Quito. Young Johanna dreamed of reaching the Galapagos and learning more about the father she never knew. In 1961 her family made the four-day voyage to from Guayaquil to Santa Cruz in the Galapagos. There Johanna fell in love with her larger-than-life uncles and the pioneering lifestyle but, aged thirteen, she reluctantly returned to school in Quito.
When Johanna finished her studies at El Conservatorio de Musica, she roamed the hills of the capital, giving guitar lessons and teaching at a kindergarten where she began to write and illustrate picture books for children.
As the world began to discover the Galapagos, Johanna moved to a remote farm in the lush highlands. It was here that she met her English husband when he helped her catch a wild colt. After marrying, they lost an infant daughter and, to get over her grief, Johanna began visiting old timers, capturing their extraordinary tales on tape. These interviews later became part of her first book, My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest, in which she pieces together her parents' complex and romantic lives.
Dr John Treherne, an author, and President of Downing College, Cambridge, encouraged Johanna to write. It was while living in William Wordsworth’s House in Cumbria, that she finished writing her book, which was published in 1989.
She and her husband now live in the English countryside, with a host of animals. After years of caring for her aged mother, Johanna has resumed work on her second book and is writing and illustrating children’s books about the Galapagos. She works from a cabin at the edge of the woods, entertained by bird song, her dogs snoring at her feet. Concerned with conservation and animal welfare, Johanna and her husband often return to the Galapagos where they maintain their family links.