Oct 1, 2010 1:44:21 AM
Wales: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Wales guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.
Welsh travelogues range from the old and not so politically correct to the rosy-eyed and romantic. Some of the following titles are now out of print but can be found via online bookstores or in secondhand bookshops.
For a good overview of Welsh people and culture, Dannie Abse’s stimulating Journals from the Antheap (1988) is a compilation of humorous accounts of his trips through Wales, musing with droll satire on the state of the nation.
Anthony Bailey’s A Walk Through Wales (1992) is an engaging account of a three-week cross-country ramble that attempts to make sense of the legend-rich land through his encounters with farmers and poets, nationalists and clerics.
A more romanticised version of Wales is proposed in Jan Morris’ Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country (1984), as she recounts her search across the valleys and mountains for the very origins of Welsh character, folklore and culture.
Muse over the passage of time and the shaping of a nation in I Know Another Way (2002), a compilation of stories by six of Wales’ leading writers, which reflect on their journeys along an ancient pilgrimage route from Tintern to St David’s.
Three astounding 18th-century guides to Wales are combined in A Tour in Wales (1773) by Thomas Pennant. The original works were largely responsible for the popularity of Wales with the Romantic Movement.
George Borrow’s Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery (1862) is an evocative and entertaining account of an 1854 walking tour of Wales, with the author’s illuminating, if condescending, observations on Welsh people and places.
Hugh Oliff’s On Borrow’s Trail: Wild Wales Then and Now (2003) is a modern interpretation of Borrow’s book as the author retraces his steps, recording changes in the landscape and people in a rich commentary accompanied by evocative photographs and illustrations.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.