Paul Clements, a travel writer, biographer and author of Jan Morris: Life from Both Sides, A Biography, selects from his library some of his favourite and formative reads…
• Aspects of Provence
by James Pope-Hennessy (1952)
A stylish portrait of Provence written after the Second World War and crammed with contradictions, ancient lustre and the smell of antiquity.
• A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
by Eric Newby (1958)
Full of serendipity and self-deprecation, this is Newby’s masterpiece and he even suggests that readers who aren’t interested can skip the ten pages on the history and geography of Nuristan.
• Munster and the City of Cork
by Richard Hayward (1964)
From the Blarney Stone to the flora of the Burren, Hayward’s tour of Munster is brimful of historical detail, alongside Raymond Piper’s evocative line drawings.
• A Time of Gifts
by Patrick Leigh Fermor (1977)
A teenager’s life-changing esoteric journey across Europe embraces a dozen civilisations and is a classic example of trans-historical topography and intergenerational collaboration.
• Blue Highways
by William Least Heat-Moon (1982)
An epic 21,000-kilometre journey on the back roads of the USA, overflowing with stories of forgotten towns and the spark and wonder of ordinary life.
• Among the Russians
by Colin Thubron (1983)
Thubron drove an old Morris Marina for 16,000 kilometres between the Baltic Sea and the Caucasus, resulting in a mix of acute social observation, erudition and lyricism.
• From the Holy Mountain
by William Dalrymple (1977)
The remarkable story of a pilgrimage through the Middle East retracing the footsteps of two monks – rich in scholarship, historical digression and laced with vignettes of dark comedy.
• The Man Who Married a Mountain
by Rosemary Bailey (2005)
A quest for the eccentric 19th-century mountaineer Count Henry Russell in the French Pyrenees combining a blend of travel, cultural history and extremes of nature.