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A celebration of the finest travel literature,
A collection of the passages, stories and moments that have inspired our finest travel writers and their readers
‘Of all the world’s books, the best stories are to be found between the pages of a passport’
Scraps of Wool will be a classic celebration of the genre, bringing into one volume passages that have enthralled and excited generations of readers. This is not a reference book, but a book to be read; each piece, a story, a memory, an inspiration.
Scraps of Wool celebrates inspirational travel writing. It has been compiled using the choices of today's greatest living travel writers, plus, via social media and links with the Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society, with the reading public itself. The crowd funding and the crowd contributing are working hand in hand. Now Unbound subscribers can also contribute suggestions.
The chosen passages will ring enchanting bells for those who are already converts and be a tasting menu for those who are new to it.
The bedrock for Scraps of Wool is passion…the travellers writing about the places that they love; the adventures that have fulfilled them and they want to pass on to us.
Authors and others who have contributed their choices include; Dervla Murphy (Full Tilt, Where the Indus is Young, The Island that Dared and many others), Anthony Sattin (The Pharaoh's Shadow; The Gates of Africa), Alexander Frater (Chasing the Monsoon), Jason Elliot (An Unexpected Light; Mirrors of the Unseen), Justin Marozzi (Baghdad; City of Peace, City of Blood; The Way of Herodotus), Hilary Bradt (Bradt Guides), Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder), Robin Hanbury Tenison (Great Explorers; Oxford Book of Exploration), Rory MacLean (Stalin’s Nose), Pico Iyer (the Lady and the Monk, Global Soul), Sara Wheeler (Terra Incognita; Travels in a Thin Country), Nick Danziger (Danziger’s Travels, Sarah Anderson (founder The Travel Bookshop, Notting Hill), Rupert McCowan (Director Royal Geographical Society, Hong Kong) Colin Thubron (In Siberia, Behind the Wall, To A Holy Mountain, The Lost Heart of Asia and many more), Artemis Cooper (biographer of Patrick Leigh Fermor), John Gimlette (Wild Coast), Isabella Tree (Sliced Iguanas), John Keay (Where Men and mountains Meet, Explorers of the Western Himalayas; Eccentric Travellers) and more (see Authors’ Shed for full list)
“The idea of this book was born when a single paragraph in one of the great travel books sent me to central Asia in 1977, and has been sending me back ever since. It started with my library but has gown into a far bigger project with the enthusiasm and support of the writers and the public” Editor, Bill Colegrave
Travel writing is like “...scraps of wool caught on a barbed wire fence that must be collected, spun and woven into fiction in a book.” Jonathan Raban.
I have had a long interest in travel publishing, albeit suppressed under a veneer of banking and finance for many years.
I was publisher of Cadogan Guides, which I bought in 1989 and also a Director of Everyman’s Library. My book, Halfway House to Heaven (Benefactum 2011), tells the story of my expedition to find the source of the River Oxus in the Wakhan Corridor and Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan.
My first ever publishing venture was really based on a whim discussed over a dinner; we created a parody of the Times, called Not The Times, during its year long strike. It was by far the most successful publishing venture I have done and made me think it was all very easy. I know better now.
My travel book library is the only possession that I really treasure and it has helped me to more than 110 countries, with many more to come.
I play a lot of real tennis and petanque; the latter found me friends when I lived in the South of France for six years.
I have three remarkable children, all grown into more interesting people than their father, and Violet, the tiny one, is my first grandchild and was born in February.
In 1960 at the age of 58, John Steinbeck set out with his French poodle Charley and his camper pick up truck – Rocinante – on a journey across America. It took him through almost 40 states.
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am 58 perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don’t improve; in further words, once a bum, always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself . John Steinbeck; Travels with Charley 1962; (chosen by subscriber Clare Maxwell Dickens)
East of Erzerum the road is very lonely. Vast distances separate the villages. For one reason or another we occasionally stopped the car, and spent the rest of the night outdoors. Warm in big felt jackets and fur hats with ear flaps, we listened to the water as it boiled on a primus stove in the lee of a wheel. Leaning against a mound, we gazed at the stars, the ground undulating towards the Caucasus, the phosphorescent eyes of foxes.
Time passed in brewing tea, the odd remark, cigarettes, then dawn came up. The widening light caught the plumage of quails and partridges….. and quickly I dropped this wonderful moment to the bottom of my memory, like a sheet-anchor that one day I could draw up again. You stretch, pace to and fro feeling weightless, and the word ‘happiness’ seems too thin and limited to describe what has happened.
In the end, the bedrock of existence is not made up of the family, or work, or what others say or think of you, but of moments like this when you are exalted by a transcendent power that is more serene than love. Life dispenses them parsimoniously; our feeble hearts could not stand more.Nicolas Bouvier, The Way of the World (choice of Rory MacLean, Author Stalin’s Nose, Berlin-Imagine a City and subscriber Rob Wilson Wright)
It isn’t just the forests, the seas, the rivers, the deserts, the paths and the daybreaks that teach you things; it isn’t just the monuments and the museums: it’s also the men, the women and the children who live by those paths and in those deserts. It’s important to travel when you’re young: you travel light and cheap, and your heart is like a sponge. Ana Briongos, Black on Black (choice of Tony Wheeler, Founder Lonely Planet)
- 4th August 2018 Why is the Times Literary Supplement now my favourite publication?
Written by Horatio Clare, winner of last years' Stanford Travel
Book Award for Down to the Sea in Ships; also Icebreaker3rd September 2017 Scraps of Wool podcasts are launched in preparation for November 16 publication date
Publication of the trade edition is now 16 November. Supporters editions will arrive in advance.
Here are links to Scraps podcasts.......a series of talks with the writers and travellers who have helped create Scraps.
the first is with Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet and one of the most travelled of all writers.5th March 2017 A cover design for Scraps of Wool
Plans are well ahead for trade publication for the Christmas 2017 market with my generous and patient Supporters personal editions, launch party, travel writing lunches and other activities in the autumn.
Thank you all so very much for making this possible.
Please let me have ideas/comments on the cover design.24th January 2017 Scraps of Wool progress....and another book
Scraps is being edited now. (No doubt the editor is grimacing at my errors as I write this). It will be distributed by Penguin Random House in partnership with Unbound as a Christmas book for 2017. The 'Supporters' edition will be a better bound, finer looking hardback that will not be available to the trade. This can still be bought on the Unbound site.
I am still receiving suggestions for the…29th September 2016 Scraps of Wool: what has happened to my book?
You will want to know where the book is and when you will get it.
It is all but ready in manuscript form* and Unbound seem to be pleased with it.
I can quote their comments without embarrassment since my role is no more than that of the easel for the artwork.
"Scraps of Wool is more than just an anthology of travel writing. It is a rare and precious record of a whole school of remarkable…29th April 2016 Scraps update
We have a manuscript with much more content than we need. It is being sent soon to our Editorial advisers for their comments. It is still all copyright protected as we are still going through that tortuous process. Authors (those still alive) are all delighted to be included but it takes unmentionable amounts of time to get the permissions agreed. In one case I have waited for four months just for…12th February 2016 Help needed with Hemingway, please.
News of Scraps of Wool:
Scraps is moving along well. Soon I will send a long list to our Editorial team and hope that they have time to look at some or all of it of it and give their views. Then we will have a final selection.
Meanwhile I need some help with Hemingway. Surely this collection of the inspiring, the memorable and the entertaining in travel literature should include something from…29th January 2016 News of Scraps....
We are close to the end of the research part of the creation of the book. I have so many wonderful and entertaining passages to sift and select. They have to be passages that stand well on their own. Some books just do not lend themselves to extracting representative pieces; others seem to be made for it (like the difference between Wagner and Puccini). I am also very much influenced by the choices…4th January 2016 Scraps of Wool evening at Mr Fogg's Mayfair Residence
Please come if you can and bring your own favourite passages of travel books or suggestions for books that should be included. Mr Fogg's say please call 0207 036 0608 to reserve a place; or email email@example.com.
It is in Bruton Lane, just off Berkeley Square.11th December 2015 Scraps talk and drinks at Mr Fogg's Mayfair January 11 2016
Scraps of Wool
An Evening with Bill Colegrave & Mr Fogg
11th January 2016 6.01pm talk followed by 6.31 Q&A
Mr Fogg’s Residence www.mr-foggs.com
15 Bruton Lane, London W1J6TD Tel: 020 7 036 0608
This January, as part of their explorer series, Mayfair bar Mr Fogg’s will team up with Bill Colegrave, the adventurous and fascinating travel writer, who has ventured to more…6th November 2015 More wings for Scraps of Wool
Scraps of Wool is looking good with 66% subscribed today and significant amounts also committed to come in soon. Thank you all so very much for your support. This crowdfunding is new to most of us, but really is the way that publishing used to be before the big battallion publishers took over for most of the 20th Century. Now its all on-line rather than in the coffee houses. The reader is back in…20th October 2015 Scraps of Wool gets wings
Thank you all my Supporters. For years the concept was a chrysalis into which ideas were fed. Now with your fertilisation, the wings are grown and it will fly.
The crowdfunding process has drawn in so many new editorial contributions, that now there is little room left for me in this shed. The richness of the contributions is the reward for the work.
Some of the ideas are new to me:
Nicholas…26th September 2015 when a Shed is really a shed...
One pile to left of the hat is done.....rest are pending but filled with notes from Supporters and contributors. This is less than 30% of the shed library.......lots of work, but very rewarding.25th September 2015 We have added a new reward - A workshop for aspirant travel writers @ £250
Alexander Frater, author of Chasing the Monsoon and Beyond the Blue Horizon, who was also for 12 years Chief Travel Writer at The Obsever and won the Travel Writer of the Year Award 3 years in a row.
and one (depending on dates) of :
Jason Elliott, whose book, An Unexpected Light about his time in Afghanistan with Mujahdeen and his return 10 years later, has been recommended…12th September 2015 Sorry to be late with my reply; we are in a war with missiles flying overhead.....
......that was the message I got back from Tim Mackintosh-Smith (Travels with a Tangerine ; Landfalls; Travels of Ibn Battuta and others) when I reminded him to send in his choices for Scraps of Wool.
OK, Tim....I can wait.12th September 2015 Jan Morris singing.....
So much of Scraps of Wool is created by writers and other correspondents revealing the passages that have inspired them. Often it is one of the very first books that they read.... for example....Jan Morris contacted me yesterday (I hope, Jan, you do not mind me relating this tale of our talk, but it was so endearing as well as entertaining).
First she said she did not like travel books and that…3rd September 2015 ....how it began...
Scraps of Wool is more of a celebration of travel literature than an anthology..... a celebration of what it has meant to us, the readers.
Scraps of Wool is not simply a listing directory of travel writers with little exemplar extracts. These have been published before. I want a book in which each extract is a discreet anecdote, episode, passage, that impresses on its own....that you could read…
These people are helping to fund Scraps of Wool.
Michelle Jana Chan