Friday, July 10, 2009


"And the dreadful ghost of a wind moaning over the precipice with an evil invitation at the back of it, moaning up out of space, through distant spiky gullies where the sun is shining, moaning with a suggestion of inhuman mirth, causes me to face the ravine as if something might come out if it which would have to be fought."

"I sit down and hold out my frozen hands in the sun, and, suddenly catching sight of those shoes which have in their time known Piccadilly and Bond Street, I roar with laughter! "

H.V. Morton
writes travel books. In the 1920's and I am hooked. So far I've found and finished - In Search of England, and now I am almost through - In Search of Scotland.

The two sentences above come from his description of climbing Ben Nevis.

I am now trolling sites looking for more. My library only has these two. The first is a current reprint but the Scotland book is the eighteenth edition from 1933, with a faded inscription, To Frank. With best wishes for Xmas 1933 from the Fletchers, and those wonderful old photos that have more character than ones in modern colour. The only thing missing is the map showing his route that must have gone missing when the book was rebound for library use.

I'd steal this book if I wasn't afraid my library card would be revoked and I'd be banished, never allowed to return.

I have been having great fun with words and terms long out of use, checking to see if churches/monuments he hopes will be repaired are now part of the British Heritage system and wishing that tourists hadn't found and crowded all those places, opening only for me and my friends.

His description of the National War Shrine in Edinburgh was so vivid and moving I had to read it several times keeping in mind how soon after the war this book was written, (1929) and how time had yet dulled the edges of the horror.

"The Shrine is a lament in stone, the greatest of all Scotland's laments, with all the sweetness of pipes crying among hills, with all the haunting beauty of a lament, all the pride, all the grandeur."

I'm captivated and not just by that profile and natty hat.

6 comments:

Jayne said...

He sounds wonderful!
I'll keep my eyes peeled for him and his travels :)

Leenie said...

I LOVE travel reading! I even made it through EAT PRAY LOVE without gagging (too much).

Libby said...

My grandparents had the 'In Search of....' books in their library, we spent quite a lot of time with them in my childhood and I remember discovering 'In Search of England' when I was quite young, I devoured it from cover to cover and determined to travel to England as soon as was possible. It's strange but so many years later you still find a lot of HV Morton in the English and Scottish countryside.
Thanks for reminding me of those books E.

Kathleen said...

I had to go checking at our own library to see what was there...and in addition to the two you mentioned, we have In Search of St. Paul, and In Search of the Master. I checked amazon and there are lots of options there...if you wanted to buy one. Not the original books, of course! I may have to check one out just to see....tho I'm thinking it might help if you lived in the area or were assoc. with it in some way?

ELIZABETH said...

Not at all Kathleen. He adds in so much history and comments about the people etc. and he writes in with such a florish that you can't help but just enjoy.

I am tempted to buy them from a place in England that ships for free. Latest editions. Early ones are available places but they want mucho dollars as mailing fees.

Kathleen said...

Well then, I'm tempted to take a peek. I'll look for him the next time I'm in my library. Thanks for the encouragement!