Not many Glaswegian schoolgirls have grown up to become revolutionary heroes of distant, eastern nations but Muriel Stewart Walker did just that.
Under a multitude of different names – ‘K’tut Tantri’ and ‘Surabaya Sue’ being the best known – this Scottish-born, self-proclaimed Hollywood scriptwriter joined in the struggle for Indonesian independence after the Second World War and broadcast its revolutionary message to the world on Rebel Radio. But she did more and smuggled arms, and probably drugs, to help finance the new Republic and experienced bloody battle in the November 1945 British attack on Surabaya that some have seen as a war crime. She went on to become an intimate of the revolutionary leaders, Bung Tomo and Soekarno among them, and finally lived to see Indonesia take its place amongst the free nations of the world.
Surabaya Sue is virtually unknown in the West and, even in Indonesia, there have always been doubts about her version of events that many have dismissed outright as a blatant mixture of outrageous fantasy and dishonest omissions. Snow over Surabaya happily embraces those doubts and brings a new, spirited account of her adventures in that tempestuous world.
About the author
Nigel Barley was born south of London in 1947. After taking a degree in modern languages at Cambridge, he gained a doctorate in anthropology at Oxford. Barley originally trained as an anthropologist and worked in West Africa, spending time with the Dowayo people of North Cameroon. He survived to move to the Ethnography Department of the British Museum and it was in this connection that he first travelled to Southeast Asia. After forays into Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Burma, Barley settled on Indonesia as his principal research interest and has worked on both the history and contemporary culture of that area. After escaping from the museum, he is now a writer and broadcaster and divides his time between London and Indonesia.