To Mexico, with Sybille Bedford
At the end of the Second World War, Sybille Bedford was tired of being cooped up in the United States. Born in Germany into a partly-Jewish family, married briefly to an Englishman so she could secure a British passport, she had fled across the Atlantic in 1940. Now she had “a great longing to move… to be in a country with a long nasty history in the past and as little present history as possible”.
Mexico wasn’t her first choice, but she ended up there, and it became the subject of her first published book: The Sudden View, later retitled A Visit to Don Otavio. Bedford (1911-2006) was a novelist, a biographer (of her friend and mentor Aldous Huxley), a celebrant of food and drink, a journalist who wrote about criminals and miscarriages of justice. She was a travel writer, too, and A Visit to Don Otavio makes a good introduction to her many talents. You can read an extract in a page I compiled for Telegraph Travel last weekend, part of which is now online. If you enjoy the extract, you can order the book from Eland Publishing; it’s still fulfilling orders by post, and most of its books can be downloaded.