It’s a hopeful time of year. The stalwart London plane trees have unfurled their leaves, and the sun is rising higher behind the City domes, towers and spires. City dwellers are beginning, as Hardy said, to ‘dream of the south and west’, and we hope that the travellers among you, armchair and otherwise, will enjoy Barnaby Rogerson’s piece on the masters of travel writing in this month’s taste of Slightly Foxed.
All the talk of travelling this month might inspire you to follow in the footsteps of great writers. This could be difficult if you go on Barnaby’s selection: the Sudan is off limits, and Zanzibar is just out of reach. But how about Ayrshire? Later this month the Boswell Book Festival will take place there, in Auchinleck House. It’ll champion the best bits of biography and travel writing, marking the 250th anniversary of when Boswell met Johnson (Samuel that is, not Boris). You can win tickets to a Boswell Festival event, so do read on.
And if travelling isn’t quite enough, then you might like to have a go at writing about it too. Barnaby has advice on this point, explaining that ‘the genius of a good travel writer is to take the reader by the hand and lead them gently, with wit and skill, into physical and mental landscapes they would never otherwise have encountered’. So if you’re keen to get writing, send your opening gambit to our First Lines competition. The prize is a place on a travel writing workshop and you’ll find more details below. Before that, though, take Mr Rogerson as a guide through the landscape of great travel writing . . .