When Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia was published in 1977 it heralded the arrival of a startling new talent in British literature. Critics were surprised and spellbound by a story of an adventure which blurred the boundaries between travel writing, biography, history and memoir. All readers recognised its timeless quality - Auberon Waugh went as far as to call it `a classic'.
Forty years later, Chatwin's first book continues to inspire generations of travellers and writers. This 40th anniversary edition celebrates the enduring status of In Patagonia and includes a host of material from the archive to recreate the book's genesis and publication.
Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield in 1940. After attending Marlborough School he began work as a porter at Sotheby's. Eight years later, having become one of Sotheby's youngest directors, he abandoned his job to pursue his passion for world travel. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, before announcing his next departure in a telegram: 'Gone to Patagonia for six months.' This trip inspired the first of Chatwin's books, In Patagonia, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M. Forster Award and launched his writing career. Two of his books have been made into feature films: The Viceroy of Ouidah (retitled Cobra Verde), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve's On the Black Hill. On publication The Songlines went straight to Number 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel Award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker Prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight.