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Wainwright Prize winners

The winners were announced last night in the three categories for the Wainwright Prize for writing on nature and conservation. They are Amy-Jane Beer, for The Flow: Rivers, Waters and Wildness (nature writing); Guy Shrubsole, for The Lost Rainforests of Britain (conservation); and Kiran Millwood Hargrave and the illustrator Tom de Freston, for Leila and the Blue Fox (writing for children).

Dervla Murphy anthology due in November

An anthology of the work of Dervla Murphy, who died in May last year, will be released by her long-time publisher Eland on  November 2. Life at Full Tilt (£25), edited by Ethel Crowley, an Irish sociologist and friend of the writer, will draw on all 24 of Murphy’s books and include her first published journalism — about her cycle ride through Spain in 1956 when she was just 24. It will have a foreword from Colin Thubron, who was one of Murphy’s favourite writers. (Incidentally, a tribute to Murphy by Crowley, written to mark the anniversary this year of her death, can still be read on the website of The Irish Times.)

  In October, Eland will be reissuing titles by a couple of other writers: The Narrow Smile: A Journey Back to the North-West Frontier by Peter Mayne; and The Christian Watt Papers: Memoirs of a Fraserburgh Fishwife, edited by David Fraser.

  Another book due in November is Falling into Place: A Story of Love, Poland, and the Making of a Travel Writer by Thomas Swick (Rowman & Littlefield, $35). Swick, a journalist and author, says his fourth book “ties the story of my quest to become a travel writer to that of Poland’s struggle to regain its independence (I lived in Warsaw from 1980-82, the period of Solidarity and martial law) – and throws a rocky love story into the mix. Because of the years covered – 1976-1989 – the book captures travel writing’s late 20th-century heyday and the excitement it produced in those of us starting out.” The book has a foreword from that “global soul” Pico Iyer.

‘Looking into the heart of Arizona’

Tom Zoellner is the author of nine non-fiction books and editor-at-large for the Los Angeles Review of Books — where his latest book, Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona, has just been reviewed by Craig Childs.

  Childs writes:

TO UNDERSTAND a place, belong to it. Walk it from end to end, crossing canyons, mesas, and vast horizons with your own locomotion. Drink from its creeks. Sleep under seas of stars. Also, work as a beat reporter in that area’s largest city and know cops by name. Follow stories from their ignition points to their smoldering ends. Sharpen your writing chops on bigger global books, then come back and write about the place where you belong.

This is what Tom Zoellner has done in his most recent book, Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona (2023), a rigorous political and personal study that he hangs on a backpacking trip from the top of the state to the bottom, passing through the Grand Canyon, the forested highlands of Central Arizona, and the low desert down to the Mexican border. This is an excellent way to assemble such a book. Half the story would be missing if he wrote without covering such distances. Arizona, with its complex and wildly changing geography, insists that the land play a significant role.

Somerville walks ‘the Bones of Britain’

For his latest book, Christopher Somerville, walking correspondent of The Times, travels a thousand miles and across three billion years. In Walking the Bones of Britain, Doubleday, £25), he starts in the Outer Hebrides, among the most ancient of rocks, and finishes at the Thames Estuary, where “nature and man are collaborating to build new land”. 

  “Geology,” he says, “can be very hard work. I have written Walking the Bones of Britain to demystify the subject, and to unearth from its dry, stony vocabulary and dense layers of facts the really vivid and extraordinary events that give these islands the world’s richest and most remarkable geological story.” You can read a brief extract on his own website.

Stanford Awards to be sponsored by cruise operator Viking

The Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards — run by the bookseller Stanfords — have a new sponsor: the cruise-ship operator Viking. The awards, which had been scaled down this year, will include in 2024 a Viking award for “fiction with a sense of place”, for which Viking passengers will be invited to make nominations. Short lists for the awards will be announced in early December and winners announced next March.

New books on travel and place

Why did they go, and what did they see? Those two questions are at the heart of Richard J King‘s history of solo sea voyages, Sailing Alone (Particular Books, £25, September 7), taking in everyone from the American Josiah Shackford, who reportedly went from France to Surinam in the 1700s (he didn’t write about his travels himself), to Ellen MacArthur, who set a new record for circumnavigating the globe when she arrived back in Britain in 2005. He weaves in, too, the story of his own “relatively minor voyage” across the Atlantic in a 28-foot boat in 2007.

  Jonathan Raban, who wrote Coasting (1986) after sailing alone around Britain, figures several times in King’s book. Raban died in January this year, as a result of complications following a stroke in 2011, but he had completed a final book: Father & Son: A memoir about family, the past and mortality (Pan Macmillan, £22, September 14). In it he chronicles his recovery from the stroke and also tells the extraordinary story of his parents’ marriage, the early years of which were conducted by letter while his father fought in the Second World War. It is, his publisher says, “a tremendous, continent-sweeping story of love and resilience in the face of immense loss”.

  Jeremy Bassetti, who does so much to promote the work of others through his Travel Writing World site, has a book of his own on the way. The Hill of the Skull — which he is crowd-funding through Kickstarter — is, he says, “part photo-book, part travel book”, combining pictures and a narrative focusing on his visit to a pilgrimage site in a town in the foothills of the Bolivian Andes. He was there last August for the annual Festival of the Virgin of Urkupiña, and, he says, “I got more than I bargained for.” He plans to launch the book in a live event online on October 1.

‘Solito’ competition winners

Congratulations to my five competition winners, who will each be receiving soon a copy of the paperback of Javier Zamora’s prize-winning memoir Solito. The winners are: Dr Jackie Kirkham, Alison Lear, Joseph B, Chas Gilbert and Lisa Smith.

  Thanks again to the publisher, Oneworld, for putting up the prize, and to all those who retweeted my posts about it. And thanks, of course, to Javier Zamora for a wonderful book; you can still read an extract here on Deskbound Traveller.

‘Seamus Heaney — Poet of Place’

Seamus Heaney died 10 years ago this month. Radio 4 is marking the anniversary with Four Sides of Seamus Heaney, a series of programmes, each on a different aspect of the poet’s work. The first, “Poet of Place”, presented by John Kelly, poet and broadcaster with RTE, was aired yesterday. It focused on the village of Bellaghy in County Derry, where Heaney was born, lived on a farm until he went to secondary school, and where he is buried. Though he spent most of his life in the Republic of Ireland, taught in America and travelled all over the world, much of his poetry is rooted in his home-place. As one of his brothers, Dan, put it, “He never really left the parish.” In the second programme, next Sunday, Heaney’s daughter, Catherine, explores his love poetry. 

Read an extract from ‘High Caucasus’

You can read an extract from Tom Parfitt’s High Caucasus — which has been generating great reviews — on the website of the media platform Open Democracy.

Javier Zamora on ‘Longform’ podcast

Javier Zamora, author of Solito, is the latest guest on the Longform podcast, where writers, journalists, film-makers and podcasters talk about how they do their work. . The user interface on Soap2day movies is intuitive and easy to navigate. . best online casinos . how to move 401k to gold