New Publications: Travel Writing & Non-Fiction

'The Cunninghame Graham Collection Series'The Cunninghame Graham Collection Series
ed. Alan MacGillivray
Kennedy and Boyd, 2012
It is in his favoured literary forms of the short story, sketch and meditative essay, forms often tending to merge into one another, that Graham excels. Over forty years, between 1896 and 1936, he published fourteen collections of such short pieces, ranging over many subjects and lands. With such a wealth of life experience behind him, Graham did not have to dig deep for inspiration. Probably no other Scottish writer of any age brings such a knowledge and awareness of life’s diversity to the endeavour of literary creation. However, the quality of his achievement has not as yet been fully assessed. One reason is not hard to find. There has never yet been a proper bringing together of Graham’s separate collections into a manageable edition to provide the essential tools for critical study. Consequently literary attention has never been really focused on him, something for which the climate of twentieth-century Scottish, and British, critical fashion is partly responsible. Perhaps entranced by the glamour of his apparent flamboyant persona of ‘Don Roberto’, the Spanish hidalgo, the Argentine gaucho, the Scottish laird, the horseman-adventurer, a succession of editors have republished incomplete collections of stories and sketches selected more to reinforce an image of Graham as larger-than-life legend rather than as the serious literary man he worked hard to be. The purpose of this series is to make Graham’s literary corpus available in a convenient format to modern readers as he originally intended it. Each collection of stories is kept intact, and they appear in chronological order with Graham’s own footnotes, and retaining his personal idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of language and style.

'Prelude to Everest: Alexander Kellas, Himalayan Mountaineer' by Ian R Mitchell & George Rodway Prelude to Everest: Alexander Kellas, Himalayan Mountaineer 
by Ian R Mitchell & George Rodway
Luath Press, 2011
Acclaimed hillwalking writers Ian R Mitchell and George Rodway tell the fascinating story of Aberdeen-born Alexander Kellas, and his contribution to mountaineering from the 20th century to the present day. Now a largely neglected figure, Kellas is the pioneer of high altitude physiology, his climbing routes still in evidence today. Follow Kellas’ journey, which takes him from the Scottish Cairngorms to the Himalaya, and discover how his struggles and explorations have impacted upon mountaineering today.

'True North' by Gavin FrancisTrue North
by Gavin Francis
Polygon, 2010
The stark, vast beauty of the remote Arctic Europe landscape has been the focus of human exploration for thousands of years. In this striking blend of travel writing, history and mythology, Gavin Francis offers a unique portrait of the northern fringes of Europe. His journey begins in the Shetland Isles, takes him to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and on to Lapland. Following in the footsteps of the region’s early pioneers, Francis observes how the region has adapted to the 21st century, giving an observed insight into the lives of people he encounters along the way. As with all the best travel writing, True North is an engaging, compassionate tale of self-discovery, whilst blending historical and contemporary narratives in the tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Robert Macfarlane.

'Literary Tourism, The Trossachs and Walter Scott' edited by Ian BrownLiterary Tourism, The Trossachs and Walter Scott 
edited by Ian Brown
Scottish Literature International (ASLS), 2012
In 1810 a literary phenomenon swept through Britain, Europe and beyond: the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake, set in the wild romantic landscape around Loch Katrine and the Trossachs. The world’s first international blockbusting bestseller, in terms of sheer publishing sensation nothing like it was seen until the Harry Potter books. Exploring the potent appeal that links books, places, authors and readers, this collection of eleven essays examines tourism in the Trossachs both before and after 1810, and surveys the indigenous Gaelic culture of the area. It also considers how Sir Walter’s writings responded to the landscape, history and literature of the region, and traces his impact on the tourists, authors and artists who thronged in his wake.

'Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition'Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition 
Livingstone Online and the UCLA Digital Library Program, 2011
The publication of Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition reveals for the first time the original record of a remarkable and traumatic period in the life of David Livingstone, the celebrated British abolitionist, missionary, and explorer of Africa. The date of publication coincides almost exactly with the date Livingstone completed this diary in Central Africa 140 years ago. The original, previously unpublished text of the diary has remained inaccessible until now, due to the fragility of the paper and the near-illegible script. The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project has restored the full text of the diary by using cutting-edge spectral imaging and processing technology, and now makes the diary available through this electronic edition.

'Dr Alexander Hamilton and Provincial America: Expanding the Orbit of Scottish Culture' by Elaine G BreslawDr Alexander Hamilton and Provincial America: Expanding the Orbit of Scottish Culture 
by Elaine G Breslaw
Louisiana State University Press, 2008
In this sweeping biography, Elaine G. Breslaw examines the life of Dr. Alexander Hamilton (1712-1756), a highly educated Scottish physician who immigrated to Maryland in 1738. From an elite European family, Hamilton was immediately confronted with the relatively primitive social milieu of the New World. He faced unfamiliar and challenging social institutions: the labor system that relied on black slaves, extraordinarily fluid social statuses, distasteful business methods, unpleasant conversational quirks, as well as variant habits of dress, food, and drink that required accommodation and, when possible, acceptance. Breslaw perceptively describes the ways in which Hamilton tried to transform the society around him, attempting to re-create the world he had left behind and thereby justify his continued residence in such an unsophisticated place. Hamilton, best known as the author of the Itinerarium—a shrewd and insightful account of his journey through the colonies in 1744—also founded the Tuesday Club of Annapolis, promoted a local musical culture, and in his letters and essays, provided witty commentary on the American social experience. In addition to practicing medicine, Hamilton participated in local affairs, transporting to Maryland some of the rationalist ideas about politics, religion, and learning that were germinating in Scotland’s early Enlightenment. As Breslaw explains, Hamilton’s writings tell us that those adopted ideas were given substance and vitality in the New World long before the revolutionary crises.

'Christie of Zanzibar: Medical Pathfinder' by Edna RobertsonChristie of Zanzibar: Medical Pathfinder
by Edna Robertson
Argyll Publishing, 2010
Edna Robertson has written a powerful biography of a nineteenth century medical pioneer. Using family papers including Christie’s letters to his brother Andrew in Kilmarnock and other sources, she does not shirk from the realities of Zanzibar before public sanitation nor from the horrors of the slave trade. James Christie (1829-1892) was a graduate of Glasgow University and an ordained nonconformist minister who had changed tack and become a doctor. He would become physician to the Sultan of Zanzibar. He would get to know both Livingstone and Stanley and play a controversial part in the campaign to end the slave trade. He would marry, would nearly die of fever, and would fight to try to save the lives of countless cholera victims. Finding himself in the thick of Zanzibar’s worst cholera epidemic, his curiosity was the key to an amazing piece of medical detection which was the supreme achievement of his life and which deserves to be remembered today. His broadly based environmental and social concerns set him apart from the narrowly focused epidemiologists of the late nineteenth century. On his return to Scotland, through his writings and his powerful pleas for reform, he also made a significant contribution to Scottish public health.

'Travels in the Interior of Africa' by Mungo ParkTravels in the Interior of Africa
by Mungo Park
Wordsworth Editions, 2002
In 1795 Mungo Park, a twenty-four year old Scottish surgeon, set out from the Gambia to trace the course of the Niger, a river of which Europeans had no first-hand knowledge. Travels in the interior districts of Africa is his Journal of that extraordinary journey. He travelled on the sufferance of African rulers and soon came to depend for his survival on the charity of African villagers. Before he reached the Niger, he endured months of captivity in the camp of a Moorish chief. His subsequent misadventures included being robbed and stripped naked by Fulani bandits. Yet, throughout his travels, Park maintained a remarkable empathy for African societies and beliefs. He recorded what he saw as accurately as he could, and without presuming European superiority. He prefaced his Journal with the disclaimer that it ‘has nothing to recommend it but truth. It is a plain unvarnished tale, without any pretensions of any kind…’ Park’s truthfulness and lack of pretension will endear him to modern readers.

'Blazing Paddles' by Brian WilsonBlazing Paddles
by Brian Wilson
Two Ravens Press, 2008
Alone in his tiny kayak, Brian Wilson sets off on an 1800-mile odyssey around Scotland’s grand cliffscapes, unspoiled shorelines, fearsome sea passages and Hebridean islands. He discovers a world of sea-level adventure, and in the process takes a good look at Scottish identity from a unique and fascinating perspective. Sometimes harrowing, frequently philosophical, often hilarious, this book will appeal to all lovers of the coast and its endlessly varied characters, wildlife and lore. Adventure is there aplenty as he battles with whirlpools, heavy seas and hypothermia, streaks naked in front of Lady Diana, and survives a close encounter with a killer whale. The narrative is brim-full of history and folklore, disasters at sea, haunted bothies and the exploits of Celtic Saints, Viking raiders and mermaids. It is inhabited by larger-than-life characters like Tex Geddes the shark hunter, Dr Stan the cave-dweller, and a whole camp of homosexual gold panners. It is also a perceptive commentary on submarines, supertankers, and other issues threatening the Scottish coastline and its unique and fragile wildlife.

'Aleppo Observed: Ottoman Syria Through the Eyes of Two Scottish Doctors, Alexander and Patrick Russell' by Maurits van den Boogert Aleppo Observed: Ottoman Syria Through the Eyes of Two Scottish Doctors, Alexander and Patrick Russell
by Maurits van den Boogert
Oxford University Press, 2010
The Natural History of Aleppo, published first as a single volume in 1756 and as a two-volume edition in 1794, by Scottish physicians to the British Levant Company in Aleppo, Alexander and Patrick Russell, was a landmark in European knowledge of the Arab world. It was the first detailed study by a European of an Arab city, with a description of the topography, the inhabitants and the plant, and animal life in the neighbourhood. Maurits van den Boogert assesses the Russells’ botanical and zoological discoveries and analyses the Natural History in the context of medical practices of the time both in Europe and the Ottoman Empire. He reconstructs their stay in Aleppo, their life in Britain, Patrick Russell’s experiences in India, and their broader connections as respected members of the Royal Society, with the world of learning at large.

'The Oldest Post Office in the World' by Hamish M BrownThe Oldest Post Office in the World
by Hamish M Brown
Sandstone Press, 2012
Hamish Brown, Scotland’s popular, veteran outdoor and travel author, takes us on a tour of ninety-four of the oddest locations located throughout the country. Each location is given a two page spread with a full colour photograph, maps, and a description in Hamish’s own, inimitable, style. This compilation of the ‘weird, surprising and unconventional’ will astonish even those who thing they know the country well. From the White Wife in Shetland to the Oldest Post Office in the World in Galloway by way of all of Scotland’s regions and the strange things to be found, the Scotland-lover is presented not only with a book of unending interest but also a list of visits to tick off as they travel the country in pursuit of the unusual. With this beautiful, largish format book Hamish Brown presents another side of himself (and Scotland) to add to the Munro and Corbett bagging adventurer of Hamish’s Mountain Walk and Climbing the Corbetts, very much with his faithful Scots Magazine readership in mind.

'Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India' by William DalrympleNine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India
by William Dalrymple
Bloomsbury, 2010
A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet – then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death. Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the ancient traditions that endure to this day.

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