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I’ve drawn on many sources for The Hero of Vesuvius.


Most valuable have been Perret’s own writings. These include his correspondence at the Carnegie Institution, Washington, as well as some of his books :

The Vesuvius Eruption of 1906: Study of a Volcanic Cycle. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1924.

Volcanological Observations. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1950.

Vesuvio, an album of photographs dedicated to Prof. R. V. Matteucci. Naples: Ediz. Ettore Ragozino.


Numerous articles about Perret, his inventions, and the Elektron Company appeared during the 1890s in Electrical World, The Electrical Engineer, and The Electrical World and Engineer.


For the Elektron Company in Springfield Massachusetts, see:

Gagnon, Frances. “Frank A. Perret and The Springfield Volcanic Research Society.” The Springfield Journal, 8 August, 1991.

The National Elevator Industry Educational Program. “The Elektron.” Target, p. 22-23. Fall 1991.


The New York Times published many articles about the 1906 Vesuvius eruption, and informative popular magazine articles include:

Matteucci, R. V. “My Life on the Vesuvian Lid,” Cosmopolitan, October, 1905.

Andrews, W. P. “Vesuvius in Fury”, Century, 1906. 566-578.

Perret, F. “The Day’s Work of a Volcanologist.” The World’s Work, November, 1907. p. 9544-9554.

Strother, French. “Frank Perret, Volcanologist.” The World’s Work, April, 1915. p. 688 -706.

Douglas, Marjory Stoneman. “He Talks With Volcanoes.” The Saturday Evening Post, December 25, 1937.


For some details of Perret’s Hawaii work, see:

Perret, F. “Volcanic Research at Kilauea in the summer of 1911.” American Journal of Science 36 (21) p. 475-488.

If you’re interested in Hawaiian volcanoes, don’t miss:

Frierson, Pamela. The Burning Island: A Journey Through Myth and History in Volcano Country, Hawai’i. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1991.


There are innumerable works about the geology of Vesuvius and its impact on European, Italian, and Neapolitan culture. The books I consulted include:

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Italian Journey, 1786-1788. Translated by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer. New York: Pantheon Books. 1962

Burgess, Anthony and Francis Haskell. The Age of the Grand Tour: containing sketches of the manners, society and customs of France, Flanders, the United Provinces, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in the Letters, journals and writings of the most celebrated voyagers between the years 1720 and 1820, with descriptions of the most illustrious antiquities and curiosities in these countries, together with the story of such traffic, by Anthony Burgess, and an appreciation of the art of Europe in the eighteenth century, by Francis Haskell. New York: Crown Publishers, 1967.

The Chinese Porcelain Society. The Volcanoes of Italy: 18th and 19th Century Neapolitan Oils, Gouaches, Engravings and Lithographs from the Collection of a Member of the Italian Royal Family. New York. 2000.

Orsi G., Di Vito M., and Isaia R. eds. Volcanic Hazards and Risk in the Parthenopean Megacity, Field Excursion Guidebook July 5-7, 1998, Naples: Osservatorio Vesuviano. 1998.

Abatino, Elio. Vesuvio, A Volcano and Its History. Naples, Carcavallo Publishing.

Pliny the Younger. The Letters of the Younger Pliny. Translated with an introduction by Bettty Radice. London: Penguin Books. 1963

Baedeker, K.F. Italy: Handbook for Travellers, Leipsig: K. Baedeker. 1890.

Baedeker, K.F. Italy: Handbook for Travellers, Leipsig: K. Baedeker. 1900.

Wilton, Andrew and Ilaria Bignamini, eds. Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century. London: Tate Gallery, 1996.


Helpful websites include:

The Vesuvius Observatory.

Vesuvius Funicular History.

Thomas Cook and Son’s Vesuvius Railway, by Paul Smith, Japan Railway & Transport Review, 3/98, P. 10-15.

For a fascinating look at the history of Vesuvius and its funicular, told through postcard and stamps, visit Marco Occhipinti's La Funicolare Vesuviana.


For treatments of the 1902 Mt. Pelée eruption, see:

Thomas, Gordon and Max Morgan Witts. The Day the World Ended. New York, Stein and Day 1969.

Morris, Charles ed. The Volcano’s Deadly Work from the Fall of Pompeii to the Destruction of St. Pierre. W. E. Scull, 1902.


Hundreds of books have been written about volcanoes, and I have found the following volumes especially valuable for this website:

Sigurdsson, Haraldur, ed.. Encyclopedia of Volcanoes. London : Academic Press, 2000.

Sigurdsson, Haraldur. Melting the Earth : The History of Ideas On Volcanic Eruptions. New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.

Scarth, Alwyn. Volcanoes. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1994.

Fiske, Richard S., Tom Simkin, and Elizabeth Nelson, eds. The Volcano Letter. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987.



Copyright © 2005 Tom Gidwitz