Penguin Travel Library and other literary travel books


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
I might as well make available here some information that I've gathered. I will probably update it from time to time. Does anyone know if I have missed anything? Especially -- does anyone have comments on any of these?

Penguin Travel Library -- Complete List (?)

Here I will list books that appear to have belonged to the Penguin Travel Library of approximately 1983-late 1980s. I list books that I have owned or remember having seen seen that have the cover style (typeface, etc.) indicated here

with the series title displayed in a distinctive typeface on the bottom of the front cover. The ones with a year are the ones I own(ed). Entries marked with C are from a Penguin Books catalog list (I neglected to record its year), listed as being in the Penguin Travel Library. Entries marked with an L are titles that were listed at the back of various copies in my Series collection as being other titles in the series. Entries marked with O are ones that, so far as I remember, I haven’t seen except as shown online. In some cases, I have added subtitles from descriptions.

Ackerley, Hindoo Holiday (1983)
Andrews, The Flight of Ikaros (1985; I gave away this copy)
Asher, A Desert Dies L
Barr, The Coming of the Barbarians: A Story of Western Settlement in Japan, 1853-1870 C; also The Deer Cry Pavilion: A Story of Westerners in Japan, 1868-1905 C
Beagle, I See by My Outfit (1985) (journey across America by motor scooter by two New York Tolkien fans)
Belloc, The Path to Rome (1985)
Bibby, Looking for Dilmun (Persian Gulf) L
Bowen, A Time in Rome C
Byron, First Russia, Then Tibet L (my copy has Penguin Travel Library banner in uncharacteristic orange background)
Carrington, Granite Island L (about Corsica)
Cameron, Indian Summer L (about India)
Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World L (I have this book in the later Penguin Classics edition; it is about Antarctica)
Conover, Rolling Nowhere (1985) (hobo life, America)
Doughty, Passages from Arabia Deserta (1984)
Douglas, Siren Land L (concerns southern Italy)
Farson, Caucasian Journey C, O
Fleming, Brazilian Adventure (date of Travel Library printing not given)
Forster, The Hill of Devi L (concerns India)
Gide, Travels in the Congo (1986)
Glazebrook, Journey to Kars (I have this from a different publisher)
Grimble, A Pattern of Islands L (atolls in the central Pacific)
Gorer, Africa Dances (1983)
Hansen, Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo C
Hearn, Writings from Japan (1984)
Hoagland, African Calliope: A Journey to the Sudan C
James, A Little Tour in France O
Lawrence, D. H. Lawrence and Italy (Twilight in Italy; Sea and Sardinia; Etruscan Places) (1985); also Mornings in Mexico L
Lee, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning L (about Spain)
Leigh Fermor, Mani (1984); Roumeli (1983); A Time of Gifts (1983); also Between the Woods and the Water C
Levi, The Light Garden of the Angel King: Journeys in Afghanistan L
Matthiessen, The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness C; also Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in Stone Age New Guinea C
Maxwell, A Reed Shaken by the Wind: Travels Among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq L
McCarthy, Stones of Florence and Venice Observed (1 vol) L
Macaulay, They Went to Portugal L
Miller, Colossus of Maroussi L
Monfreid, de, Hashish (1985)
Morris, Spain L
Morris, Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone C
Newby, The Big Red Train Ride C; also The Last Grain Race C; also Round Ireland in Low Gear C; also A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush C; also Slowly Down the Ganges C
Pope-Hennessy, Aspects of Provence C
Pye-Smith, The Other Nile C
Scott, Escapade (Brazil; fiction?) L
Somerville-Large, Grand Irish Tour L
Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express L
Thesiger, Arabian Sands (1984); also The Marsh Arabs
Wain, House of Exile L
Waugh, Ninety-Two Days L (I have this in a different edition)
Welch, Maiden Voyage (it is about Shanghai) L
Wilson, Reflections in a Writer’s Eye C
Wright, Cut Stones and Crossroads: A Journey in the Two Worlds of Peru C; also On Fiji Islands C
What a good list. Contains some of my favourites including the 2 Patrick Leigh-Fermor books, and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee.

The original Laurie Lee trilogy of Cider with Rosie (growing up in pre-motor car Somerset), Midsummer (Where Lee walks to London and then across Spain), and A Moment of War (where he repeatedly avoids being shot as a spy in the Spanish civil war) are magical. Lee's writing has an ecstatic quality to it. Also check out A Rose in Winter, where he returns to Spain 15 years after the War.

Other lists:

Eland publishes a very good list of travel writing:

Check out Naples '44 by Norman Lewis.

The fashion for "Travel Lit" arguably took off in the 1980s after Granta magazine published a special edition.


containing some real gems:

Gabriel García Márquez: Watching the Rain in Galicia
Todd McEwen: They tell me you are Big
Russell Hoban: One Less Octopus at Paxos
Jonathan Raban: Sea-Room
Richard Holmes: In Stevenson’s Footsteps
James Fenton: Road to Cambodia
Redmond O’Hanlon: Into the Heart of Borneo
Colin Thubron: Night in Vietnam
Martha Gellhorn: White into Black
Bruce Chatwin: A Coup
Norman Lewis: Village of Cats
Saul Bellow: Old Paris
Patrick Marnham: Holy Week
Jan Morris: Interstate 281
Paul Theroux: Subterranean Gothic
Hugh Brody: Jim’s Journey
William Weaver: Italy

Granta have published much more in this vein over the years. The magazines can often be had on eBay for not much and I think no.10 is still available on the Granta website. Good value and something of a classic.
Thanks, Hitmouse. I have that issue. I think interest in travel writing owes a lot to the late Paul Fussell's exceptionally readable study Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars, which came out in 1980. (It certainly did a great deal to prompt my interest!)

Here are a few books that may have been in the Penguin Travel Library. Perhaps I or someone else can confirm.

Farnham, The Fantastic Invasion
Fleming, One's Company
Thubron, Among the Russians; also Journey into Cyprus
van der Post, Venture to the Interior
Waugh, Labels
West, White Lamb and Grey Falcon
Word, Third-Class Ticket
Young, Slow Boats to China

I mean to post soon some comments on Beagle's I See By My Outfit.
Don't know anything about Penguin travel library, but I notice there is no mention of the sequel to A Pattern of Island - Return to the Islands.

Other travel books of that period and earlier (in case you want that sort of info). What about Elspeth Huxley - Flame Trees of Thika, several sequels and also her later travel in West Africa (Three Guineas).
Gerald Durrell - both childhood in Corfu and later animal collections. David Attenboroughs Zoo Quests.
I have Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young in a Picador Tavel Classics hardback. Really interesting book. First published 1981 by Hutchinson (it says on the fly-leaf) Looking at the other books on the list, many have been published previously by different imprints.
Other travel books of that period and earlier (in case you want that sort of info)

Sure -- whatever readers want to contribute relating to the thread subject, which is a broad one indeed! I personally am thinking in terms of travel writing from the 19th century to now, but if someone wants to chime in with comments on Marco Polo or Gerald of Wales -- go ahead!

And thanks, Hitmouse, for the link to the Picador line, which perhaps took the baton after the Penguin series ran its course -- ? There are several overlapping titles.

Fleming, One's Company -- yes O

Thubron, Journey into Cyprus -- yes O

West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon -- title correction; but it doesn't seem to have been in the Penguin Travel Library
Wood, Third-Class Ticket; correct to author name; yes O
The original Laurie Lee trilogy of Cider with Rosie (growing up in pre-motor car Somerset), Midsummer (Where Lee walks to London and then across Spain), and A Moment of War (where he repeatedly avoids being shot as a spy in the Spanish civil war) are magical. Lee's writing has an ecstatic quality to it.

Is there a story, perhaps on the eerie side, having something to do with a radio in the first book -- ? I know that is vague! I have an impression of having looked that up. But I have never read one of his books all the way through.
Here's something about noted fantasy author Peter S. Beagle's early nonfiction book I See by My Outfit. The book was an entry in the Penguin Travel Library. I wrote the comments below for a Tolkien 'zine, Beyond Bree, which, as a subscriber of about 13 years' standing and as a frequent contributor, I recommend:

Young PSB

[FONT=&quot]A reprint of a magazine article by Peter S. Beagle introduced Ballantine's Tolkien Reader paperback in 1966. His novel The Last Unicorn -- in its day one of the few fantasy novels for adults readily available -- had not yet been published. However, 1965's I See by My Outfit established Beagle as a Tolkien fan and linked Tolkien's name with an early-Sixties youth sensibility. Lewis Untermeyer relished Beagle's "gaiety and gusto of youth."[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Beagle and his artist friend Phil Segunick -- two Jewish guys from the Bronx -- ride their motor scooters by way of the Grand Canyon to Menlo Park, California, where Beagle's girlfriend lived. Descriptions of cities and roads through mountain and desert are engaging. The two wear beards, attend a Happening in Ann Arbor (light show, electronic music, overheard talk about pot, bennies, and methedrine), play guitars when visiting music stores, and talk with a rock collector, a prostitute, inquisitive cops, friends who live on their way, hotel folk, Indians, a pawnshop clerk, and especially, profanely, kiddingly, each other. And part of their personal coin of conversation is The Lord of the Rings, which Beagle calls a "fantastic odyssey" that is one of "our private Gospels." [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]So Ann Arbor, where attractive Kisa and her husband live, is likened to Rivendell, the home of the Elves, though just a tiny apartment that she has made beautiful is their home. Cleveland and Las Vegas recall Mordor to their minds. "George and Flo's waybread" is tuna, mayo and an onion that are given them on their journey. The Tolkienian references are on pages 10, 11, 18, 115, 128-130, and 144. Technically, Beagle's book predates the Tolkien Craze, since the trip it chronicles seems to have been taken before the LOTR paperbacks appeared, but it probably contributed to it.[/FONT]

This isn't a photo of Beagle, but I guess it's the kind of scooter he rode:
I also like the completely quirky Dover list:

Basically: reprints of public domain works and very cheap.
An eclectic collection of all sorts of subjects, but their travel list has a number of foundational classics: Richard Burton, Lewis & Clarke, Capt. Cook etc.
A personal favourite is Following the Equator by Mark Twain; a clever and very funny writer.
Is there a story, perhaps on the eerie side, having something to do with a radio in the first book -- ? I know that is vague! I have an impression of having looked that up. But I have never read one of his books all the way through.

I cannot remember about the radio, but it wouldn't surprise me. The 3 books are available as an omnibus edition. I was transported.
Here are a few books that may have been in the Penguin Travel Library. ...

Farnham, The Fantastic Invasion

Corrected to Marnham; and I don't think this book, evidently of contemporary reportage from Africa, was in the Penguin Travel Library.
I cannot remember about the radio, but it wouldn't surprise me. The 3 books are available as an omnibus edition. I was transported.

I have this vague impression that the passage from Laurie Lee involves a woman and an overgrown garden or orchard, something like that -- I realize this is still vague!
The books they took with them!

Travel writers, expedition members, explorers -- they take books along for reading when wrapped up in their sleeping bags against the polar winds or when they're sprawling in their hammocks on a hot, sopping-wet-muggy tropical night.

Trudging in British Guiana, Evelyn Waugh (Ninety-Two Days) takes a copy of Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby along. Redmond O'Hanlon wrote No Mercy about a Congo journey. His companion Lary is reading Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit, while O'Hanlon reads Gide's Travels in the Congo. Apsley Cherry-Garrard (The Worst Journey in the World) -- Antarctica: "With regard to books we were moderately well provided with good modern fiction, and very well provided with such authors as Thackeray, Charlotte Brontë, Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens. With respect to the kind givers of these books, I would suggest that the literature most acceptable to us in the circumstances under which we did most of our reading....was the best of the more recent novels, such as Barrie, Kipling, Merriman and Maurice Hewlett. We certainly should have taken with us as much of Shaw, Barker, Ibsen and Wells as we could lay our hands on, for the train of ideas started by these works and the discussions to which they would have given rise would have been a godsend to us in our isolated circumstances. The one type of book in which we were rich was Arctic and Antarctic travel. ....These were extremely popular ....[Dickens's] Bleak House was the most successful book I ever took away sledging, though a volume of poetry was useful, because it gave one something to learn by heart and repeat during the blank hours of the daily march, when the idle mind is all too apt to think of food in times of hunger, or possibly of purely imaginary grievances...."

Here's one more... Graham Greene in Mexico (The Lawless Roads / Another Mexico): "I had with me only [Victorian author Anthony Trollope's] Dr Thorne and the first volume of Cobbett's Rural Rides .... Dr Thorne I had to ration -- not more than twenty pages a day, to include my siesta in the afternoon. was a cruel blow to discover that the binders had left out four pages -- a whole fifth of a ration -- at the climax. Somewhere in those four pages Mary Thorne's life changed from misery to happiness -- I wasn't to know exactly how." Greene adds: "one did want, I found, an English book in this hating and hateful country." If he'd read Dr. Thorne in England, he says, he might have had "mental reservations" before surrendering to the charm, "but here -- in this forgotten tropic town, among the ants and the beetles -- the simplicity of the sentiment did literally fill the eyes with tears." And he gives a page and a half to Trollope.

He remembers how, when he went to Africa, he took Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy -- a mistake.
You appear to be on a bit of a roll lately Extollager..:)

This travel lit thread is a beauty!

I have a couple of travel anthologies as well as several penguin black classic (what else..;) ) editions of travelogues including I think medieval and earlier.

It's not an area I've been heavily into but one that has always fascinated me and now with this new thread I'll be able to look at adding to my current collection.

@Additional idea: We could also include fictional travelouges. I'm being relatively broad here and including works such as Don Quixote. Really an emphasis on fictional charatcers who travel widely within a given story and where the travel itself is a main highlight of the book...maybe too broad?
If it's up to me to make the call, I would say: Let's stick, on this thread, to nonfiction. It might be good to have a thread for discussing fictional journeys -- if so, would one want to stick with fiction set in our world, like the Quixote, or allow journeys in imaginary worlds, such as The Lord of the Rings, various novels by Jack Vance, and A Voyage to Arcturus?

When I launched this conversation thread, I was thinking particularly of nonfiction narratives that belong between, on the one hand, accounts of arduous exploration, and, on the other, tourist travelogues; but what do other Chronsfolk think? Even I would not want to be too rigorous about that. One book I mentioned earlier, Cherry-Garrard's Worst Journey in the World, belongs on the "exploration" end of the spectrum, while Waugh's Labels (but not his Ninety-Two Days) would be pretty touristy.

The other day I got a book that was later picked up for your beloved "black Penguins" editions -- I'll post about that at the Book Hauls thread.

I'd say that the late Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts, which I finished yesterday, is a perfect example of a travel book. Ian Frazier, who is still very much a productive writer, wrote great examples of what might be considered a subset of "travel books" -- namely nonfiction road trip books; I recommend Great Plains, about a region that begins just a bit west of where I live, and Travels in Siberia. I've read about four of Colin Thubron's travel books, including two on Russia, one on China, and one on Cyprus. I could recommend any of those. All of Evelyn Waugh's travel books are collected in one Everyman's Library volume. Books like these let us meet some very interesting people, pick up some history painlessly, and move along the open road or along the forest path, eyes and ears wide open.
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Here's yet one more list -- the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time as propounded by National Geographic Adventure magazine.

Some of these are pretty far towards the exploration end of the spectrum that I mentioned in my previous message. I've read a number of these and all of the ones I've read were, indeed, good. This seems like an excellent list to me.
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