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bull-nosed

Henry Vollam Morton

Henry Canova Vollam ("H. V.") Morton (26 July, 189218 June, 1979) was a journalist and pioneering travel writer from Birmingham, England, best known for his prolific and popular books on Britain and the Holy Land.

Private life

Morton was born at Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire, the son of Joseph Morton, editor of the Birmingham Mail, and of Margaret Maclain Ewart, a philanthropist. He was educated at King Edward's School in Birmingham.

He firstly married Dorothy Vaughton (born c. 1886/7) on 14 September 1915; they divorced and he then married Violet Mary Muskett, neé Greig (born c. 1900/01), herself a divorcee, on 4 January 1934: she survived him.

In the late 1940s he moved to South Africa, settling near Cape Town and became a South African citizen.

Journalism

After leaving school, Morton entered journalism on the staff of his father's competitor, the Birmingham Gazette and Express. After two years, he became its assistant editor in 1912. He then moved to London, becoming sub-editor of the London-based national newspaper the Daily Mail from 1913-1914. In 1913 he became editor of Empire Magazine (London).

He served in the Warwickshire Yeomanry during World War I. After the war, he returned to journalism, first on the (London) Evening Standard (from 1919), and then on the Daily Express from 1921. His columns on London life in the Daily Express became very popular. In 1923 he achieved world-wide fame for his reports on the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt. From 1931 - 1942, he was "special writer" at the Daily Herald.

Travel writing

Morton's first book, The Heart of London, appeared in 1925, and was a development of his popular Daily Express columns. In 1926, as motoring was becoming established in the UK, he set off to drive around England in a bull-nosed Morris, an early mass-produced motor-car. His account of these travels and of the England of the 1920s was published in 1927 as In Search of England, a best-seller that established him as one of the leading travel-writers of the age. A number of similar books dealing with different regions of the UK followed.

Even greater acclaim greeted Morton's first foreign travel book, In the Steps of the Master (1934), which sold over half a million copies. The Master was Jesus, and the book an account of Morton's travels in the Holy Land. This was soon followed by In the Steps of St. Paul (1936), which presents a picture of Ataturk's Turkey. This was followed by Through Lands of the Bible (1938) in which he visits Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Iraq, and gives a marvellous picture of this now vanished scene. Extracts from all three books were combined and published as Middle East during World War II for the servicemen stationed there.

After the war, Morton turned his attention to South Africa, publishing In Search of South Africa in 1948. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he wrote a number of books dealing with Italy. A Traveller in Italy deals with North Italy.

Honours

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). Greece made him a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix in 1937 and he was awarded the Italian Cavaliere, Order of Merit in 1965.

Bibliography

  • The Heart of London (1925)
  • The London Year: A Book of Many Moods (1926) (published in the U.S. as When You Go to London)
  • London (1926)
  • The Spell of London (1926)
  • The Nights of London (1926)
  • In Search of England (1927)
  • May Fair: How the Site of a Low Carnival Became the Heart of Fashionable London (1927)
  • The Call of England (1928)
  • The Land of the Vikings: From Thames to Humber (1928)
  • In Search of Scotland (1929)
  • In Search of Ireland (1930)
  • In Search of Wales (1932)
  • Blues Days at Sea and Other Essays (1932)
  • In Scotland Again (1933)
  • In The Steps of the Master (1934)
  • The London Scene (1935)
  • In The Steps of St. Paul (1936)
  • Our Fellow Men (1936)
  • Through Lands of the Bible (1938)
  • Ghosts of London (1939)
  • Women of the Bible (1940)
  • Middle East: A Record of Travel in the Countries of Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Turkey and Greece (1941)
  • I, James Blunt (1942) (fiction)
  • I Saw Two Englands: The Record of a Journey Before the War, and After the Outbreak of War, in the Year 1939 (1942)
  • Travel in War Time (1942)
  • Atlantic Meeting: An Account of Mr. Churchill's Voyage in H.M.S. Prince of Wales, in August, 1941, and the Conference With President Roosevelt Which Resulted in the Atlantic Charter (1943)
  • In Search of South Africa (1948)
  • In Search of London (1951)
  • Coronation in Wonderful Pictures (1953; co-authored)
  • A Stranger in Spain (1955)
  • A Traveller in Rome (1957)
  • This Is the Holy Land: A Pilgrimage in Words and Pictures (1958)
  • This Is Rome: A Pilgrimage in Words and Pictures (1960)
  • This Is the Holy Land: A Pilgrimage in Words and Pictures (1961)
  • A Traveller in Italy (1964)
  • What I Saw in the Slums (1964)
  • The Waters of Rome (1966) (published in the U.S. as The Fountains of Rome)
  • A Traveller in Southern Italy (1969)
  • In Search of the Holy Land (1979, photos by Rene Burri)

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