The British Library Releases a Collection of Historic Recordings by Major Travel Writers of the 20th Century

It’s Easter and the most popular gift to give is chocolate. But here at CD-Traveller headquarters, we’d much rather unwrap and devour The British Library’s new two-CD 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.

The CD is available online at

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