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In Search of England - H.V. Morton [b:In Search Of England|688833|In Search Of England|H.V. Morton|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347466636s/688833.jpg|675186] by [a:H.V. Morton|214439|H.V. Morton|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367404426p2/214439.jpg]

After many years abroad, [a:H.V. Morton|214439|H.V. Morton|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367404426p2/214439.jpg] set out one morning in the mid-1920s, in his Morris two-seater car, on a tour of his home country.

This book was published on 2nd June 1927. It is now in its 40th printing with its original publisher in the UK. One British newspaper described the book as "travel writing at its best. Bill Bryson must weep when he reads it." I agree. The book is an absolute delight. The best travel writing inspires the reader to want to go and visit the places described. I came away from this book with a list of places to visit, or revisit. I was also inspired to look up many of the places he visited online. Many still look every bit as charming as [a:H.V. Morton|214439|H.V. Morton|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367404426p2/214439.jpg]'s descriptions.

[a:H.V. Morton|214439|H.V. Morton|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367404426p2/214439.jpg] was writing at a time when people were less mobile. Interestingly he still describes traffic jams in the Lake District, and seems to encounter American tourists wherever he goes. He also stumbles across many old customs and skills that would have been in their death throes at the time he was writing, for example he describes flint-knappers in Norfolk, a skill that was already all but extinct.

Morton's writing is frequently sublime. It is fairly obvious that the reality cannot have been quite so perfect and that he must have made up some of the account. As the trauma of World War One started to diminish I suspect many readers wanted this type of pleasing portrait of England as a place of tradition, stability, history, country lanes, village greens, outstanding beauty, quirky characters and traditional pubs serving warm ale and cheese. The book's conclusion perfectly illustrates this romanticised view:

"I went out into the churchyard where the green stones nodded together, and I took up a handful of earth and felt it crumble and run through my fingers, thinking that as long as one English field lies against another there is something left in the world for a man to love.

'Well', smiled the vicar as he walked towards me between the yew trees, 'that, I am afraid, is all we have'.

'You have England', I said."


It is interesting to consider the extent to which it is acceptable to embellish or romanticise accounts of travel. For me it matters not a jot and I have no hesitation in recommending this delightful book.