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Explorers' Sketchbooks

The Art of Discovery & Adventure

Huw Lewis-Jones, Kari Herbert


A celebration of exploration told through the finest visual journals of some 70 explorers from the 16th century to the present day

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Despite dramatic advances in technology and equipment over the centuries, there is one vital piece of kit in most explorers’ pockets that hasn’t changed much at all – the journal.

The sketchbooks and journals presented here allow us the opportunity to share, through their own eyes and thoughts, the on-the-spot reactions of around 70 intrepid individuals as they journeyed into frozen waters, high mountains, barren deserts and rich rainforests. Some are well known, such as Captain Scott, Charles Darwin, Thor Heyerdahl and Abel Tasman; others are unfamiliar, including Adela Breton, who braved the jungles of Mexico to make an unparalleled record of Maya monuments, and Alexandrine Tinne, who died in her attempt to be the first woman to cross the Sahara. Here are pioneering explorers and map-makers, botanists and artists, ecologists and anthropologists, eccentrics and visionaries, men and women. A handful of living explorers, including Wade Davis, provide their thoughts on the art of exploration.

Often battered and neglected, stored away and perhaps long forgotten, many of these sketchbooks have themselves awaited rediscovery. Now is the chance to open them again...

Winner: Longman – History Today Awards 2017, Historical Picture Researcher of the Year: Pauline Hubner

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'Imagine leaning over the shoulder of Captain James Cook as he charts the Pacific, or that of Meriwether Lewis as he and William Clark establish the true extent of the new nation of the United States. That’s the sensation you get as you leaf through this book '
Michael Kerr - Daily Telegraph

'Exquisitely produced…Personality and passion are frequently on display. The scientific excitement is palpable'

'A captivating compendium'
Country Life

'Lets you root around the journals of great wanderers'

'The excitement of adventure and discovery leaps from the pages … electrifying'
The Field

House & Garden

'An outstandingly beautiful book … fascinating'
Ships in Scale

World of Interiors

'Intriguing … lovingly researched and photographed … you really feel like you’re leafing through a long-lost sketchbook'
RNLI Lifeboat Magazine

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound/PLC (no jacket)

Size: 19.5 x 27.0 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Publication date: 29 September 2016

ISBN: 9780500252192

Contents List

Foreword by Robert Macfarlane • Introduction: These Rough Notes, Huw Lewis-Jones & Kari Herbert • The Sketchbooks • Essays: This Glorious Forest, Ghillean Prance; Another World, Alan Bean; Infinite Beauty, Tony Foster; Indispensable Friends, David Ainley; Making Marks, Wade Davis

About the Author

Huw Lewis-Jones is former curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute and National Maritime Museum. Among his other books are Across the Arctic Ocean, The Conquest of Everest and The Crossing of Antarctica.

Kari Herbert, explorer Sir Wally Herbert’s daughter, is the author of The Explorer’s Daughter, In Search of the South Pole and Heart of the Hero.

List of Contributors

Robert Macfarlane, David Ainley, Alan Bean, Wade Davis, Tony Foster, Sir Ghillean Prance