28/03/2012

The British Library releases a collection of historic recordings by major travel writers of the 20th century

'In spite of all hardships, discomforts and sicknesses, the lure of exploration still continues to be one of the strongest lodestars of the human spirit, and will be so while there is the rim of an unknown horizon, in this world or the next.'

- Freya Stark

The British Library has today released a new 2CD set of recordings, The Spoken Word: Travel Writers. The latest in the highly-acclaimed series, ‘The Spoken Word’, this set brings together a selection of previously unreleased historic BBC broadcasts of major travel writers discussing their lives and their art, together with two rare live recordings made by the British Library. None of these recordings have been published before.

At a time when travel has become an everyday commodity enjoyed by so many, these recordings hark back to an earlier generation of intrepid individuals determined to overcome every kind of hardship. In one of the earliest recordings, made in 1943, Leonard Hussey recalls Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition of 1914-17. In one of the more recent, from 1973, Geoffrey Moorhouse speaks about his near-fatal attempt to cross the Sahara, west to east, by camel.

The collection includes many of the major names of travel writing and exploration in the 20th century. In addition to Hussey and Moorhouse, the speakers include Peter Fleming, Laurie Lee, Ella Maillart, Eric Newby, Sacheverell Sitwell, Freya Stark, Wilfred Thesiger, Laurens van der Post, Rosita Forbes and Jan Morris. Laurens van der Post is heard in a live recording made at the Royal Geographical Society making an impassioned plea on behalf of the Bushmen of the Kalahari and Jan Morris in a live recording reading an extract from her book Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere.

Steve Cleary, Lead Curator Drama & Literature at the British Library, said:

‘From Eric Newby’s amused recollections of the farcical lack of preparation for his assault on the mountains of Afghanistan to Geoffrey Moorhouse’s profound reflections on life following his close call with death in the Sahara, this varied selection of recordings testifies vividly to a spirit of travel, exploration and enterprise that seems already to belong to a bygone age.’

-Ends-

Notes to Editors:

For clips please contact evie.jeffreys@bl.uk

The Spoken Word: Travel Writers
is published by the British Library on 28 March 2012, price £16.00. The set comprises 2 discs, containing 12 recordings, duration 150 minutes (ISBN 978 0 7123 5109 6). The recordings are copyright of the BBC or the British Library Board.

The CD set is available from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / e-mail: bl-bookshop@bl.uk) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.

The British Library
is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. www.bl.uk

Track Listing The Spoken Word: Travel Writers

1. Leonard D A Hussey
(1891–1964)
Marooned on Elephant Island
Date of recording: 20.09.1943
Duration: 3.04

2. Rosita Forbes
(1890–1967)
Speaking Personally
Date of recording: 11.07.1938
Duration: 7.48

3. Freya Stark
(1893–1993)
The Philosophy of Exploration
Date of recording: 22.01.1947
Duration: 17.35

4. Sacheverell Sitwell
(1897–1988)
Nuptials of the East and West
Date of broadcast: 13.10.1956
Duration: 12.46

5. Ella Maillart
(1903–1997)
Interview at her home in Chandolin
Interviewer: Bridget Carter
Date of broadcast: 17.10.1987
Duration: 17.21 [extract]

6. Laurens van der Post
(1906–1996)
On the Bushmen of the Kalahari
Date of recording: 29.06.1977
Duration: 19.10

7. Peter Fleming
(1907–1971)
The Time of My Life
Announcements: Michael Deacon
Date of recording: 09.08.1969
Duration: 20.40

8. Wilfred Thesiger
(1910–2003)
The Empty Quarter
Date of broadcast: 24.11.1947
Duration: 16.02

9. Laurie Lee
(1914–1997)
The Last Fiesta
Date of recording: 01.02.1955
Duration: 13.57

10. Eric Newby
(1919–2006)
Turning Points
Interviewer: John Ellison
Date of recording: 14.05.1968
Date of broadcast: 16.05.1968
Duration: 11.28

11. Jan Morris
(born 1926)
Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere
Date of recording: 27.09.2001
Duration: 6.02 [extract]

12. Geoffrey Moorhouse
(1931–2009)
By Camel Across Sahara
Interviewer: Robert Williams
Date of recording: 16.03.1973
Duration: 4.55

For more information contact:

Evie Jeffreys, British Library

T: +44(0)20 7412 7105

E: evie.jeffreys@bl.uk

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitized collection items and over 40 million pages.

For more information contact:


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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

 

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