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Image for HV Morton: Travelling into the Light

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Christmas Day 2012 07:00 BBC Radio 4

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 21 September 2012

As John McCarthy retraces one of the journeys of H V Morton he presents a revealing portrait of this influential travel writer.

Witty, erudite and engaging, H V Morton was Britain's first truly popular travel writer.

His success was assured when he covered the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1923. His book In Search of England, published four years later, launched a bestselling series and set a benchmark for all travel writers.

Using In Search of England as a reference, McCarthy recreates Morton's journey around Devon and explores the changes to the landscape over the past eighty years.

On his travels he uncovers two Mortons. The book's narrator is a welcoming, cheerful man who rolls along the roads of England in a two-seater car to compose his skilfully-crafted considerations; and then there's the writer Harry Morton, a more complex individual whose literary achievements mask a complicated private life.

McCarthy's journey, echoing the pages of chapter six of In Search of England, takes him around Dartmoor, Widecombe and finally Clovelly. As he absorbs the areas he visited himself as a child he reflects on the influence of Morton and brings into the light the darker corners of the life of this pioneering travel writer.

Produced in Salford by Stephen Garner with readings by Joss Ackland

John McCarthy visited Dartmoor, The Warren Inn, Widecombe in the Moor and the historic fishing village of Clovelly. Click on the links to discover more about these places and the life and work of H V Morton.

  • In Search of England

    In Search of England

    Further reading
  • In Search of H V Morton

    In Search of H V Morton

    The first authorised biography of one of the best-selling travel writers of all time

    Further reading


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