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Eric Newby

Eric Newby

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George Eric Newby CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 MC
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 (6 December 1919 – 20 October 2006) was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 travel author
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

. Newby's best known works include A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, The Last Grain Race, and Round Ireland in Low Gear.

Life


Newby was born and grew up near Hammersmith Bridge, London, and was educated at St Paul's School. After leaving school he worked for two years at the Dorland advertising agency until 1938 when he apprenticed aboard the Finnish windjammer
Windjammer
A windjammer is the ultimate type of large sailing ship with an iron or for the most part steel hull, built to carry cargo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century...

 Moshulu
Moshulu
Moshulu is a four-masted steel barque built by William Hamilton on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1904, and currently a floating restaurant docked in Penn's Landing, Philadelphia. -History:...

and took part in what was known as the 'Grain Race' from Australia to Europe by way of Cape Horn. This voyage was subsequently described under the misleading title The Last Grain Race and pictorially documented in Learning the Ropes. In fact, two more grain races followed the 1939 race in which Newby participated, with the last race being held in 1949.

He served in the Black Watch
Black Watch
The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland is an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The unit's traditional colours were retired in 2011 in a ceremony led by Queen Elizabeth II....

 and the Special Boat Section during World War Two
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and was captured during an operation against the coast of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 in August 1942. He was later awarded the Military Cross
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 for his part in the raid. Newby was sent to a camp at Chieti a few miles inland from Pescara on the Adriatic coast, and later to Fontanellato
Fontanellato
Fontanellato is a small town in the province of Parma, in northern Italy. It lies on the plains of the River Po near the A1 autostrada, about 20 kilometres west of Parma towards Piacenza....

, near Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

. Escaping with the other British prisoners after the Italian Armistice he was helped to hide in the Apennine
Apennine
-Other places on Earth:*The Apennine or Italian peninsula*Apennins, a department of the first French Empire-Plants and animals:*The Apennine , a modern breed of domestic sheep.*Apennine Shrew, an insectivore endemic to Italy...

 countryside by a Slovenian woman, who married him after the war and became a companion on his travels. These experiences were described in his memoir Love and War in the Apennines, which focusses on how he was helped by ordinary Italians. A film, In Love and War, was made in 2001 based on the book, starring Callum Blue
Callum Blue
Daniel James Callum Blue , better known as Callum Blue, is an English film and television actor, best known for his roles on the Showtime series The Tudors and Dead Like Me as well as for his role as Zod in the American television series Smallville and British...

 as Newby. He was free until the end of 1943, when he was recaptured.

After the war, he briefly worked in the women's fashion business (his father had owned a firm making ladies' mantles), before setting out to climb Mir Samir in the Nuristan Mountains of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, an expedition later chronicled in A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush — probably his most widely-known work, and which included a meeting with Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger
Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, CBE, DSO, FRAS, FRGS was a British explorer and travel writer born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.-Family:...

. From 1963 to 1973, Newby was Travel Editor for The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

newspaper.

He was awarded a CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1994 and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001.

Newby's life and work was profiled in ITV's The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

(director Tony Knox) in 1994. He also made notable travel films for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, returning to Parma with his wife Wanda in The Travel Show (director Paul Coueslant, 1994) and visiting one of his favourite cities, Istanbul (1996).

Newby died at age 86 in Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

.

Selected bibliography

  • The Last Grain Race
    The Last Grain Race
    The Last Grain Race is a 1956 book by Eric Newby, a travel writer, about his time spent on the four-masted steel barque Moshulu during the vessel's last voyage in the Australian grain trade.- Background to the book :...

    (1956)
  • A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
    A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
    A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is a 1958 book by Eric Newby. It is an autobiographical account of his adventures in the Hindu Kush, around the Nuristan mountains of Afghanistan.- Background to the book :...

    (1958)
  • Something Wholesale (1962)
  • Slowly Down the Ganges (1966)
  • Time off in Southern Italy: The Observer Guide to Resorts and Hotels (ed.) (1966)
  • My Favorite Stories of Travel (ed.) (1967)
  • Grain Race: Pictures of Life before the Mast in a Windjammer (1968)
  • Wonders of Britain: A Personal Choice of 480 with Diana Petry (1968)
  • Wonders of Ireland: A Personal Choice of 484 with Diana Petry (1969)
  • Love and War in the Apennines
    Love and War in the Apennines
    Love and War in the Apennines is a 1971 Second World War memoir by Eric Newby...

    (1971)
  • When the Snow Comes, They Will Take You Away ("Love and War in the Apennines" 1971 U.S.A. edition by Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • The Mitchell Beazley World Atlas of Exploration (1975)
  • Great Ascents: A Narrative History of Mountaineering (1977)
  • The Big Red Train Ride (1978)
  • A Traveller's Life (1982)
  • On the Shores of the Mediterranean (1984)
  • A Book of Travellers' Tales (ed.) (1985)
  • Round Ireland in Low Gear (1987)
  • What the Traveller Saw (1989)
  • A Small Place in Italy
    A Small Place in Italy
    A Small Place in Italy is a travel memoir and autobiographical novel written by Eric Newby, author of The Last Grain Race and Slowly Down the Ganges. In 1967, Eric Newby and his wife Wanda acquire an old run-down farmhouse in Italy, I Castagni , in the foothills of the Apuan Alps on the borders of...

    (1994)
  • A Merry Dance Around the World: The Best of Eric Newby (1995)
  • Learning the Ropes: An Apprentice in the Last of the Windjammers (1999)
  • Departures and Arrivals (1999)

External links