To mark the donation of Eric Newby’s archive to the Society, Alexander Maitland will be giving a Be Inspired talk on Monday 5 November. In advance of the talk, we asked Alexander to tell us more about Eric Newby and the items that have been donated.
Can you tell us a little bit about Eric Newby?
Eric Newby was born in London in 1919 and educated at St Paul's School. He worked in advertising before joining the Finnish wind-ship, Moshulu, in 1938 for an historic voyage which he described in his book The Last Grain Race.
During the war he was captured in 1942 off Sicily and imprisoned. In Love and War in the Apennines he described how he escaped, helped by Wanda Skof, whom he eventually married. After some years in the wholesale fashion business, he travelled in Nuristan in 1956 and wrote A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush.
Together, the Newbys journeyed Slowly Down the Ganges in 1963 and, on his return, Eric became Travel Editor of the Observer.
What can we learn from the items in the donation – why are they important now?
The archive includes a great many of his letters, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks and photographs, and they provide fascinating insights into Eric Newby, as well as a window on his time and travels.
The photographs in the archive are really striking and it is clear that Newby was a remarkable photographer with a gift for composition, landscape and portraiture.
What is your favourite item and why?
With so many to choose from, this is difficult. Perhaps Hugh Carless's letter which led Eric to the Hindu Kush and the great travel book which made his name.
Alexander’s talk, Travelling for amazement, takes place at the Society on Monday 5 November at 2.30pm. It is free for members and students, and £5 for others.
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