A book by a surveyor who became a spy and one by the brother of the creator of James Bond will be published later this month by Eland, custodian of travel classics.
Lewen Weldon, a fluent Arabic speaker, was mapping the desert of Egypt when the First World War broke out. He was recruited by the British government to run a network of spies from a steam yacht on to the Syrian coast behind Turkish lines. Hard Lying, his “vivid tale of adventure”, Eland says, “becomes eyewitness history as we encounter Armenians escaping the massacres, passionate Arab nationalists, resolute Turkish soldiers and a heroic network of Jewish volunteers”.
In Brazilian Adventure (first published in 1933), Peter Fleming, journalist, travel writer and brother of Ian, tells how he was prompted by an advertisement in the agony column of The Times to set off on the trail of Colonel Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who had vanished in Amazonia. The journey, which begins in a spirit of can-do frivolity, slowly darkens into something very personal and deeply testing, for which, Fleming says, “Rider Haggard might have written the the plot and Conrad designed the scenery”. (Fawcett was the subject recently of a brief but transporting little book by the neurologist A J Lees, Brazil That Never Was.)
I’m not in the habit here of linking to the publications of oil companies, but there was a lovely tribute to Eland, and the part it has played in travel writing over the past 40 years, by Matthew Teller in the May/June issue of AramcoWorld.