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H. V. Morton (1892–1979)

Author of In Search of England

48+ Works 3,582 Members 53 Reviews 7 Favorited

About the Author

H. V. Morton began writing as an undergraduate in England. By the time he was 19, he became assistant editor of the Birmingham Gazette and Express. Later he joined the staff of the Daily Mail in London. Returning home from the British army after World War I, he realized how little he actually knew show more his country. His explorations led him to write a travel series later published by Dodd. He has been called "perhaps the greatest living authority on the material being of the British Isles---that is to say, on their landscape, buildings, monuments, customs and history." As a devout churchman, he has also written several books on biblical personages and places. He was an experienced and worldly traveler who had a "unique talent for capturing the essence of lives long past." (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Series

Works by H. V. Morton

In Search of England (1927) 490 copies
In the Steps of the Master (1934) — Author — 316 copies
In the Steps of St. Paul (1936) — Author — 304 copies
A Traveller in Rome (1957) 240 copies
In Search of Scotland (1929) 225 copies
In search of London (1951) 196 copies
A Traveller in Italy (1964) 174 copies
In Search of Ireland (1930) 158 copies
Through Lands of the Bible (1938) — Author — 115 copies
A Stranger in Spain (1772) 104 copies
In Search of Wales (1932) 101 copies
The Waters of Rome (1966) 79 copies
In Scotland Again (1873) 75 copies
In search of the Holy Land (1979) 74 copies
This is the Holy Land (1913) 73 copies
I Saw Two Englands (1942) 68 copies
H. V. Morton's London (1926) 63 copies
Atlantic Meeting (1943) 63 copies
The Call of England (1928) 53 copies
In Search of South Africa (1948) 46 copies
Women of the Bible (1940) 45 copies
The Heart of London (1925) 44 copies
The Spell of London (1930) 36 copies
Ghosts of London (1939) 31 copies
Magic of Ireland (1978) 28 copies
Middle East (1941) 28 copies
The Nights of London (1926) 27 copies
In the steps of Jesus (1953) 19 copies
H.V. Morton's England (1975) 19 copies
The London Year (1933) 16 copies
HV Morton's Britain (1969) 13 copies
The splendour of Scotland (1976) 9 copies
When you go to London (1933) 6 copies
Our fellow men, (1936) 6 copies
I, James Blunt (1942) 3 copies
London: A Guide (1937) 3 copies
Im Heiligen Land (1991) 1 copy

Associated Works

This England (1966) 170 copies
Travelers' Tales ITALY : True Stories (1998) — Contributor — 112 copies
Wonderful London (1935) — Contributor — 18 copies
National Geographic Magazine 1956 v109 #4 April (1956) — Contributor — 8 copies

Tagged

20th century (29) 300 (20) Bible (31) Britain (23) British (16) British history (15) Christianity (25) England (179) essays (15) Europe (18) Folio Society (37) geography (48) Great Britain (18) H V Morton (21) H.V. Morton (15) history (216) Holy Land (31) Ireland (51) Israel (22) Italy (180) London (96) memoir (22) Middle East (36) non-fiction (167) own (19) Palestine (31) Paul (15) religion (48) Rome (57) Scotland (87) Spain (23) to-read (48) tourism (25) travel (731) travel writing (62) travelogue (17) UK (17) unread (20) Wales (24) WWII (21)

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Reviews

travel Gospel land
 
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SrMaryLea | 4 other reviews | Aug 22, 2023 |
travel guide w. Paul
 
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SrMaryLea | 2 other reviews | Aug 22, 2023 |
I did not enjoy this book as much as I did “In Search of Scotland” but this is because Scotland is my native land and I knew many of the places the author visited and described.

But Morton is a wonderful writer with amazing powers of perception and description so I imagine everything he writes is worth reading. He also observes aspects no-one else does and enlightens us about ghosts and hauntings to be encountered in certain places.

The book was first published in 1927 so it is extremely outdated, if that is the correct word.

Morton has a superb grasp of history, and if he has a fault, it is that he assumes we also know our English history to the same extent as he does, which I for one do not. It would have been better had he himself had explained more of the pertinent historical details than he does.

He made his trip around England subsequent to believing he was dying of meningitis of Palestine. There he vowed that if he survived he would return to the lanes, villages, hedges and grass of England that he loved.

He begins his trip in London. He states: “It does not matter where I go, for it is all England”,

I will here refer to but a few of the many places he visits and historical information he divulges.

He is exceedingly fond of cathedrals so he visits many and tells us his views of them, He begins with Winchester Cathedral.

He also saw the Great Hall of the Castle of Winchester. It is not Norman but early English. It stood on the “traditional Castle of King Arthur”.

“The Round Table of King Arthur has hung for over five hundred years on the walls of Winchester Hall. (I assume he means a portrait of it.)

At the Hospital of St. Cross he asks for the “wayfarer’s dole” and is given ale and bread. It was founded in 1136 by Henry de Blois to shelter thirteen poor feeble men, give them garments and beds, bread, three dishes at dinner and one at supper, and “drink of good stuff”. Also food and drink to poor wanderers, which is what Morton asked for and received.

About thirty wayfarers, mostly tramps, received the dole each day.

H.V. visits Beaulieu Abbey, which the villagers of Beaulieu believe to be haunted.

A young woman lives alone in the ruins of the abbey; she often hears steps and the sound of a key in the night. She hears the singing of the monks who used to sleep there in cells and it has also been heard by two otherwise sceptical friends.

We’re told that H.V.’s nurse called him “Master Henry”, so I’ll call him “Henry” from now on.

Henry visits Stonehenge, where he feels that horrible rites were performed.

In Plymouth he sees the spot from which the Mayflower sailed in 1620. He finds a house where some of the Pilgrim Fathers spent the night before they sailed; it is called “Mayflower House”.

Henry reaches Cornwall. “Like the Welsh, these people (of Cornwall) possess a fine Celtic flency, so that their lies are more convincing than a Saxon truth”.

Re the names of the towns – St.Austell. St. Anthony, St. Mawes, St. Ives, etc, etc, he asks “Is there a saintlier country on earth?”

He is given the key to King Arthur’s Castle of Tintagel (pronounced Tintadgel), actually just fragments of an ancient wall.

He found it to be the most disappointing castle in England – a disappointing ruin, but a great experience.

The Cornish people refer to other parts of England as “England”, as though Cornwall was not England.

Henry visits Glastonbury, claimed to be the heart chakra of Britain, or is it the world? (Mu comment, not Henry’s.) I know it has an amazing energy since I’ve been there myself, and could discern the energy from miles away.

Henry tells us that it was to Avalon that “the hooded queens bore the dying Arthur, his scabbard empty of Excalibur”.

He reveals that he wrote the passage about Glastonbury in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. A few “tumbled” walls and the beautiful St. Mary’s Chapel represent all that remains of the Abbey.

He states that for centuries Glastonbury was one of the holiest places on Earth – this perhaps explains its palpable divine energy. The bones of Arthur and Guinevere are said to have been buried beneath the high altar.

Behind the ruined abbey, at the foot of the Tor, is the mineral spring which was one of the wonders of the world.

Henry wonders why there is no guide available to tell people that “this quiet field is the only spot in England linked by legend with a man who knew Jesus Christ. Joseph of Arimathaea who had laid Christ in the tomb came in AD 61 to preach the Gospel in England; he came with the chalice of the Last Supper which had held the Sacred Blood from the Cross.

Joseph placed his staff in the earth, it took root and grew into the Glastonbury Thorn.

In Bath, there is a Pump Room, an abbey and lots of bath chairs.

The Pump Room has been open since 1796 for those with gout, rheumatism and sciatica.

Henry had treatment in one of the hot baths, though he didn’t really have any symptoms – but afterwards he had a sharp pain in the knee.

Hot water bubbles up to Bath, reportedly because there is a deep crack in the crust of the Earth through which volcanic gases escape; these turn into hot water as they reach Bath.

He thinks that the cure has given him rheumatism!

In the choir of Worcester Cathedral lies the notorious King John. He directed that his body be buried between the tombs of Worcester’s two saints, St. Oswald and St. Wulstan. The saints have long disappeared but “the bones of the wicked king” remain.

John realized it was unlikely that he would get to heaven, and, trying to “hoodwink” the doorkeeper of Paradise, ordered that he be buried in a monk’s gown.

He sees a sign To Gretna Green 10 miles” and cannot resist crossing the Border to visit it. People get married at the blacksmith’s shop. A large crowd stands in front of it.

The caretaker told Henry there had been 22 marriages that year. If two people affirm their willingness to marry before witnesses, they can be married.

Henry has an imaginary conversation with a centurion who served on the Wall of Hadrian about his building the Wall – Hadrian's Wall.

He is much impressed with the Wall. It was the north boundary wall of the Roman Empire”. He thinks it is the most marvellous engineering enterprise in the country and that it should be made “a guarded ancient monument”. The weather is rotting it slowly.

He states that Durham Cathedral is “stupendous” - the most wonderful Norman church he has ever seen.

St. Cuthbert’s tomb lies in Durham Cathedral. He died in A.D. 687. Like many of the early saints, St. Cuthbert hated women. (To my mind, a person who hates anyone is not a saint.)

Henry arrives at York and finds an astonishingly beautiful medieval town. “York is too good to be true.”

He feels that Yorkshire itself is not a county, but a country (like Cornwall).

In Petersborough Cathedral he finds the tomb of Katharine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII. She was a “poor, lonely lady, a miserable pawn in a political game.” He feels that unhappy Katherine deserves a more queenly tomb.

I will not go into more details, but I will sum up by stating that H.V. Morton is an illustrious travel writer and this book like all his others is wonderfully written; his knowledge of British history is unsurpassed; and he regales us with numerous personal anecdotes about the places he visits. I highly recommend that you read the book if you’re at all interested in England and appreciate good writing.
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IonaS | 6 other reviews | Nov 21, 2021 |
Morton's travelogue is the ne plus ultra of travel writing. He's the master of the genre, and his work here is the measure of it. Morton has earned his popularity by capturing the sights, sounds, and splendour of England as it was in the 1920's with aplomb. It's a joy to read this pleasant tour of bridges, forests, pubs, village greens, and eccentric characters.
 
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wyclif | 6 other reviews | Sep 22, 2021 |

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