Beryl Markham was an aviator in Africa in the 1930s. She became famous for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, but these days she's best known (when she's known at all) as the author of an excellent autobiography/memoir, West with the Night.
Here's what Ernest Hemingway said about the book, in a letter to Maxwell Perkins:
Did you read Beryl Markham's book, "West with the Night"? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and some times making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people's stories, are absolutely true. . . . She omits some very fantastic stuff which I know about which would destroy much of the character of the heroine; but what is that anyhow in writing? I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.
Unfortunately, it turns out that there's some question as to the authorship of the book; it may in fact be a biography (posing as an autobiography) written in whole or in part by Markham's third husband, writer Raoul Schumacher. Robert Viking O'Brien has an interesting article, "Author and Hero in West with the Night," which discusses why it may be irrelevant who wrote it; he looks at the colonialist tension of Markham growing up in a British family in East Africa, and suggests (I'm paraphrasing/interpreting heavily here) that whoever is telling a "true" story, some things will be omitted and others changed, so that the teller shapes the tale; and thus, O'Brien suggests, the question of who's doing the telling is less interesting than looking at what's told. I'm not sure I agree that it doesn't matter who's doing the telling, but there's some good stuff in the article—and it may make y'all interested in reading the book, which you really ought to do regardless of who wrote it.
Yes, I'm finishing up my Zeppelin story. And no, Beryl Markham isn't in it. But I needed some info from the book for it.