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‘It was rugged travel; the hotels where we stayed were basic and often dirty. We lived on bread, cheese, figs, pastis and wine. The bus journeys were slow and suffocating, with long stops for no particular reason. One day we would be languishing in the humid heat of an estuary, the next exhilarated by sweet mountain air, waking to forests and mountains. We never saw an English person, and hardly any French, except at Calvi and Ile-Rousse towards the end of our trip.’

That is Alan Ross describing Corsica in 1947 which he and the artist John Minton visited, in the footsteps of Edward Lear, expressly to write this book. Although admitting, perhaps too modestly, to the influence of Graham Greene’s The Lawless Roads and Journey Without Maps and therefore ‘too inclined to see Corsica in terms of defeated priests, corrupt politicians and saintly monks’ he wrote one of the best travel books since the Second World War. It is, in fact, a collaboration between a gifted writer and the most romantic artist of his generation, and, in its own lesser way, it played a part, alongside the early Elizabeth Davids (also illustrated by John Minton), of reminding drab, grey, post-war Britain of a warmer, sunnier, more colourful alternative: the Mediterranean.

‘Evocative and splendid . . . alert, fresh and sensuous’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Poetic, personal, the pungent effect of travel on keen senses’ V. S. Pritchett, New Statesman

‘Splashed with bold strokes and burning colours . . . We are made to see and small, hear and feel the place. That is the test of a good travel book’ Observer


Alan Ross (1922-2001) was a poet, writer, journalist, editor and publisher. In fact, he was a man of letters par excellence. Born in India, educated in England, he joined the Royal Navy in the Second World War and endured the Arctic convoys to Russia. Alan Ross took over The London Magazine (the definite article was later dropped) from John Lehmann…

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