Eric Newby

Eric Newby

Eric Newby
Born (1919-12-06)6 December 1919
Hammersmith, London
Died 20 October 2006(2006-10-20) (aged 86)
Guildford, Surrey
Occupation Author, travel writer
Nationality British
Period 1956 - 99
Genre History, travel, non-fiction,
Subject India, Middle East, Britain, Europe, Afghanistan
Spouse Wanda
Children 2 (a son and a daughter)

George Eric Newby CBE MC (6 December 1919 – 20 October 2006[1]) was an English travel author. Newby's best known works include A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, The Last Grain Race, and Round Ireland in Low Gear.


  • Life 1
  • Selected bibliography 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


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 Moshulu and took part in the "Grain Race" from Australia to Europe by way of Cape Horn. This voyage was subsequently described in The Last Grain Race and pictorially documented in Learning the Ropes.[2]

He served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section during World War Two, and was captured during an operation against the coast of Sicily in August 1942. He was later awarded the Military Cross 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, near Parma. Escaping with the other British prisoners after the Italian Armistice, he was helped to hide in the Apennine countryside by a Slovenian woman, Wanda, 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 focuses 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 as Newby and Barbora Bobuľová as Wanda. 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, an expedition later chronicled in A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush — probably his most widely known work, and which included a meeting with the English explorer Wilfred Thesiger. From 1963 to 1973, Newby was Travel Editor for The Observer newspaper. He was awarded a CBE in 1994 and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. His life and work was profiled in ITV's The South Bank Show (director Tony Knox) in 1994. He made travel films for the BBC, returning to Parma with his wife Wanda in The Travel Show (director Paul Coueslant, 1994) and visiting one of his favourite cities, Istanbul (1996). He died at age 86 in Guildford.[3][4]

Selected bibliography

  • The Last Grain Race (1956)
  • A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (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 (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 (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)


  1. ^ BBC News Travel writer Newby dies aged 86 22 October 2006
  2. ^ The grain racespamir.chez-alice: (retrieved 1 December 2006)
  3. ^ "Adventurer before the days of tourism".  
  4. ^ "Idiosyncratic travel writer from another age". The Guardian. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 


  • Cocker, Mark, Loneliness and Time: British Travel Writing in the Twentieth Century, London: Secker and Warburg, and New York: Pantheon, 1992
  • Newby, Wanda, Peace and War: Growing up in Fascist Italy, London: Collins, 1991
  • Robb, Kenneth A. and Harender Vasudeva, "Eric Newby" in British Travel Writers, 1940[-]1997, Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 204, edited by Barbara Brothers and Julia M. Gergits, Detroit: Gale, 1999: 223-34
  • Thesiger, Wilfred, Desert, Marsh and Mountain: The World of a Nomad, London: Collins, 1979; as The Last Nomad, New York: Dutton, 1980

External links

  • The Guardian obituary (Edward Mace George) A Short Walk in the Hindu KushEric Newby: Idiosyncratic travel writer from another age, and author of the classic
  • The Times obituary Eric Newby
  • Book Review, Slowly Down the Ganges, at The Open Critic