Edith Durham (1863 – 1944) was an English artist, anthropologist/ethnologist and writer who travelled and worked in Albania between 1900 and 1914. One of those intrepid Victorian/Edwardian female explorers, High Albania is her account of her travels in Northern Albania in 1908, the time of the Young Turks and the end of the Ottoman Empire.
Lots of late nights, early mornings, conversations with Albanians and Franciscans, blood feuds, besa and firing of pistols.
Supremely readable analysis of Tibet’s history and place in the modern world, covering its relationships with China and the rest of the world (past and present – including the British invasion under Younghusband), and Patrick French‘s own exploration of the country and encounters with the people and the politics of Tibet in 1999.
It took me a while to read my way through Caroline Moorehead’s biography of journalist, traveller and writer, Martha Gellhorn. Lots of detail to explore in an eventful life spanning almost 9 decades, ending in her suicide in 1998.
Always trying to share the impact of significant events on ordinary people, Martha Gellhorn wrote about the Great Depression in her home country of America, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War, and much more.
Her own life was similarly eventful, living and travelling all around the globe, making friends (and losing them again) across continents.
A history of the Ordnance Survey and the men behind the maps. Sounds dry? It’s fascinating.
We start with unruly Jacobite Scotland, head south to the Enlightenment lowlands, journey around Kent, connect up with France, stretch up to Shetland, collect place name data in Ireland and – eventually – five lifetimes in – publish the last sheet of the first full map of the British Isles.
I’m afraid I abandoned this autobiography, and I’m rather ashamed to admit that.
I feel that I ought to have relished reading about the life and achievements of Gwen Moffat (still going strong at 93), who made a living from climbing and writing from the 1940s onwards, becoming the first female British mountain guide in 1953, and wrangling marriage and motherhood alongside it all.