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The last literary traveller

Many of the greats have laid down their pens. But Rory MacLean keeps the travel writing torch aflame

Literary travel writing, usually associated with the drumbeat of hooves across some distant steppe, seems at the moment to be echoing instead with the slow tread of the undertaker’s muffled footfall. Within the last few years Ryszard Kapuscinski, Eric Newby, Norman Lewis and Wilfred Thesiger have followed Bruce Chatwin on their last journey. Others—notably Jan Morris and Patrick Leigh Fermor—have put down their pens or busied themselves with a final bout of anthologising.

At the same time, many of the most talented of the younger generation have turned their pens in new directions: Philip Marsden and Amitav Ghosh to the…

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