Dervla Murphy has been described as a ‘travel legend’ and ‘the first lady of Irish cycling’. For five decades she’s travelled the world in a series of truly remarkable journeys, mostly alone and mostly on foot. I had the great fortune to speak with her a week after her 90th birthday. We talked about the loss of traditional cultures, travel in the pre-internet age, and the general state of the world.
Nigel Barley wrote one of the funniest travel books I've ever read, and it nearly got him kicked out of his academic discipline. We spoke about the grim reality of fieldwork, his odd attraction for monkeys, and why fiction tells us more than anthropology about what it means to be human.
Sara Wheeler is the author of 10 books, including Mud and Stars. We spoke about her travels in Russia, living as writer-in-residence on an Antarctic research base, and the reciprocal relationship between story and memory.
Jerry Kobalenko is one of Canada’s most experienced High Arctic travelers, and the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden. We spoke about the lure of Ellesmere, and searching for the traces of historic travelers.
Lawrence Millman is the author of 18 books, and a master of northern writing. We talked about his book Last Places, eating bird shit in Iceland, and his efforts to preserve stories before they fade away.
Rory Maclean is the author of 15 books, including Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries. We talk about Berlin, making a film with David Bowie, the state of Europe, and how a glimpse of the Berlin Wall formed a lasting influence on his books.
Eland has been resurrecting lost travel classics and keeping them in print for more than 35 years. I talk with publisher Barnaby Rogerson about anthropology-lite, why the post-war period was a golden age for British travel writing, and why some of the 20th century’s most exciting writers were autodidacts.
The novelist and island writer Lawrence Durrell believed that everyone has a personal landscape, a landscape that resonates with them on some deep tuning fork level, where you feel most at home, and where you think your deepest thoughts.
I’ve spent more than 20 years exploring such places as a traveler, and as a writer of magazine features and books.
I’m going to talk to the people who write those books and publish those books. Experts on different geographical and cultural regions, and on long-dead writers whose books have entered the canon of travel classics.
I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoy talking to them.