Bibliography - Motoring Books


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Motoring Accounts

In some of these books the travelling (and mode of transport) isn't really what the book's about, but you can bet they won't have walked or cycled it!

The Automobilist Abroad by Francis Miltoun, L C Page and Company (US), 1907

The first account I've found of a drive from End to End, although this takes only 17 pages of the book. It is presented more as a motorists' guidebook than as an account of a journey, but most of it is subjective, including something of an anti-British prejudice throughout.

From Dover to John O’Groats’ House in a Motor Car by Grinnell Willis, 1912

A particularly pointless after-dinner speech documenting a golfing holiday, printed up for some reason now probably lost in the mists of time.

On Old-World Highways by Thos D Murphy, L C Page and Company (US), 1914

About a third of this book is an account of a tour through Britain from John O’Groats to Land’s End, the remainder covering touring in France and Germany.  A good account of early long-distance touring by car: in fact the continental part is more interesting than the British part.

From Land’s End to John O’Groats by Jessie Barker Gardner, published privately (US), 1930

This is a pretty awful account by a rich American tourist driving through Britain with her husband.  They appear to have been interested only in castles and antiques, and there is little about the people they meet or local culture.  One to avoid.

From Land’s End to John O’Groats by Colin Howard, Blackie, 1939

An entertaining account of a pre-war motorcar jaunt.  Recommended.

Roaming Britain by Willard Price, John Day Company (US), 1958

Half this book is about a journey from source to mouth of the Thames, by boat once there was enough water in the river. The second half is an American motor tour of the UK, albeit one with more insight than the average. This isn't a bad book, but it's for US audiences of its time, rather than UK audiences of now.

Springtime in Britain by Edwin Way Teale, Cassell, 1971 (also Pan paperback)

Edwin Way Teale won a Pulitzer prize for his earlier books about America, but this “Americans in Britain” account isn’t particularly inspirational.  A 11000-mile (sic) naturalist’s meander by car through Britain, starting at Land’s End and ending at John O’Groats.

The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux, Hamish Hamilton, 1983 (also Penguin paperback)

The American travel writer Paul Theroux made a tour around the coast of the United Kingdom in 1982, and this is his account of that journey. He travelled mainly by train and bus, although he also did some walking. A book worth reading, although he does tend to major in the more depressing and sordid aspects and skip over the scenic. Well-written of course, but it left me wondering if all his writing revels in the grotty bits of where he goes. I'll probably pick up another of his books to find out. Recommended.

The Bedside Rambler by Christopher Somerville, Harper Collins, 1991

A miscellany of classic writings about the British countryside, starting at Land’s End and ending at John O’Groats.  Not quite an End to End journey, but a fascinating read for anyone planning one.  Recommended.

The City of Woods and Fields by Stephen Butler, Mainstream Publishing, 1992

An entertaining account of a meandering drive in a ramshackle Morris Minor van from Armadale on the north coast of Scotland to Zennor in Cornwall, via every letterof the alphabet.  Recommended.

The Longest Crawl by Ian Marchant, Bloomsbury, 2006

A pub crawl from the Isles of Scilly to the Shetlands. Highly entertaining, although I don't think Ian Marchant drank anywhere near as much as Tony Hobbs. Or me for that matter. Recommended.

Page last updated 26 August 2008