Bruce Chatwin

Your home for news on Bruce Chatwin and literary travel.

Birds of Paradise

Over at The Guardian, William Dalrymple chooses In Patagonia as his favourite travel book, and reflects on prevailing attitudes to Chatwin:

‘Chatwin remains like a showy bird of paradise amid the sparrows of the present English literary scene, and it is impossible to reread In Patagonia without a deep stab of sadness that we have lost the brightest and most profound writer of his generation.’


Apologies all for the recent silence. I’ve been away in Western China visiting – amongst others – the famous Doctor Ho of Yunnan whom Chatwin wrote about in this article for the New York Times. More on that soon – in the meantime, here’s a picture of the Doctor with – above him – his collection of Bruce Chatwin books:


The major news in the intervening weeks has been the death of Patrick Leigh Fermor, Chatwin’s great friend and mentor.
There have been a number of pieces written on Leigh Fermor; perhaps the pick of them are these three:

Jan Morris in the Guardian
William Dalrymple in The Daily Beast
Christopher Hitchens in Slate

Most express a sentiment which I share – that we shall not see his like again.


Huffington Post

The Huffington Post reviews the letters; calls them ‘an exquisite curio from the days before e-mail.’

Nicholas Shakespeare on Benin

Over at The Telegraph, Nicholas Shakespeare relates an oddly coincidental family tale.

Under the Sun in America

The Letters have just been released in the US. A round up of reviews below:

“One of the pleasures of a good book of letters is watching a voice develop and ripen over time, and Chatwin’s does. It grows lovelier, grainier, more confident, more wicked.”

The New York Times

“Chatwin's real subject, however, was not nomadism but himself.”

Washington Post

A “jumble-box of arcana”.

Wall Street Journal

“His letters, alas, reflect little of this charming writer's soul. They are, in fact, among the least revealing of authors' letters that I've ever read, which surely must have been intentional on Chatwin's part. They are frustratingly superficial.”

Chicago Tribune

“Readers of the biography will be familiar with much of it, but addicts will want it all.”


“This 500-page selection of the writer’s letters provides not revelation but evasion; not features but a mask. Except that evasion is heart’s blood; the mask, his countenance.”

Boston Globe

On the Black Hill

Chatwin’s first (or is it second?) novel has just been reissued in the US with a new cover design by tatoo artist Daniel Albrigo. The LA Times takes a look.