Solo: Memoirs and Travelogues

Diary of a Dead Officer by Arthur Graeme West

East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. I by Henry W. Lucy

NEW! East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. II by Henry W. Lucy

Faces and Places by Henry W. Lucy

In Kent with Charles Dickens by Thomas Frost

Duet: My First Book by Jerome K. Jerome and many well-known authors of the day

Reminiscences of Captain Gronow by Capt. Rees Howell Gronow

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Diary of a Dead Officer Diary of a Dead Officer by Arthur Graeme West

Total running time: 3 hrs 44 mins

Published posthumously, this collection of diary entries presents a scathing picture of army life and is said to be one of the most vivid accounts of daily life in the trenches. It chronicles West’s increasing disillusion with war and his move toward pacifist and atheist beliefs. The final part consists of his powerful war poems, including God, How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Men, and Night Patrol. West was killed by a sniper in 1917. In view of some of his poems, one wonders if death was not unwelcome.

I am very ambivalent about this book. It was edited in 1919 by an active pacifist, and the diary was later reissued by the Imperial War Museum, but I haven’t seen the later edition, and don’t know how differently West’s diary entries are portrayed.

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East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. I East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. I by Henry W. Lucy

Total running time: 7 hrs 52 mins

East by West: a Journey in the Recess is an account of British journalist Henry Lucy’s travels across America and on to the Far East during the parliamentary recess in 1883.

Lucy was one of the most influential journalists of his day and, as “Toby M.P.”, a noted humorist in Punch magazine. His acute powers of observation and light touch make this a most engaging book. It is a fascinating insight into the Englishman’s travels abroad within two decades of the American Civil War and the end of Japanese isolationism.

This is the first of two volumes covering his journey with his wife. This first volume includes his travels in America and in Japan, including the Atlantic and Pacific crossings by steamer. Volume II, which I hope to record later, continues his experiences in Japan and India, returning home via Aden and the Suez Canal.

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East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. II East by West: a Journey in the Recess, Vol. II by Henry W. Lucy

Total running time: 9 hrs 30 mins

East by West: a Journey in the Recess is an account of British journalist Henry Lucy’s travels across America and on to the Far East during the parliamentary recess in 1883.

Lucy was one of the most influential journalists of his day and, as “Toby M.P.”, a noted humorist in Punch magazine. His acute powers of observation and light touch make this a most engaging book. It is a fascinating insight into the Englishman’s travels abroad within two decades of the American Civil War and the end of Japanese isolationism.

This is the second of two volumes and covers his experiences in Japan, India and other parts of south-east Asia, returning home via Aden and the Suez Canal. The first volume included his travels in America and in Japan, including the Atlantic and Pacific crossings by steamer.

Note: In Chapter 6, Lucy understandably, to a readership wholly unfamiliar with Japan, includes lengthy statistics about Japan’s systems and economy. While the reader of the text can glance at such tables and move swiftly on, this is not possible in an audiobook. Accordingly, I have made two versions of Chapter 6. The first version is completely unabridged. In the alternative file, 6alt, I have excised the longest statistical tables.

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Faces and Places Faces and Places by Henry W. Lucy

Total running time: 7 hrs

This was my first solo recording for Librivox, a book I also transcribed for Project Gutenberg. The sound quality was awful and I have now re-recorded it. I enjoyed it just as much second time around, and I heartily recommend it.

Henry Lucy lived in my little town, and was a noted political journalist and wit. This book is an eclectic collection of history and travel, humour and pathos. I love it.

Faces and Places is a collection of articles on nineteenth century travel, events and personalities by the British journalist Henry Lucy, who wrote for the Daily News, a London newspaper.

The first article, “Fred” Burnaby, includes a lively account of a balloon trip, while Night and Day on the Cars in Canada and Easter on Les Avants relate Lucy’s experiences of rail travel at that time. Other travel tales (A Night on a Mountain, Mosquitoes and Monaco, and Oysters and Arcachon) provide an insight into the Victorian Englishman’s attitude to Europe.

Three of the pieces, Peggotty and Ham, A Cinque Port and Christmas Eve at Watts’s, concern my own county of Kent. Christmas Eve at Watts’s contains an interesting exposé of Dickens’ short story The Seven Poor Travellers, which I have also recorded.

Other articles are of historical interest: A Wreck in the North Sea is an account of the wreck of the ship “Deutschland” in 1875; A Historic Crowd describes the massive popular interest in the 1871 trial of the Tichborne Claimant; The Battle of Merthyr contains an eye-witness account of the Merthyr Riots of 1831; The Prince of Wales paints a portrait of the future King Edward VII.

Lucy, who also wrote as “Toby, M.P.” for the satirical magazine Punch, loved to poke gentle fun, particularly at the establishment, and this is especially evident in A Peep at an Old House of Commons.

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In Kent with Charles Dickens In Kent with Charles Dickens by Thomas Frost

Total running time: 6 hrs 8 mins

By his own admission, Thomas Frost found it hard to make a living from his writing, and no doubt he used the name of Dickens in the title of this book to boost sales. Frost tells a good tale, and the book is not only of interest to enthusiasts of Dickens and the county of Kent.

He includes some of Dickens’ own descriptions of locations, as well as regaling us with anecdotes about towns and villages which he visits, including an account of the last armed rising on British soil – the Battle of Bossenden Wood.

As well as accounts of his travels through the highways and byways of Kent in the footsteps of Dickens and his characters, he also wanders into the lanes of myth and legend, sometimes making up his own stories along the way.

I could only just forgive the author’s cardinal sin of confusing Men of Kent and Kentish Men in the first chapter, but I found this rather odd mixture of memoir, short stories and literary travelogue a most enjoyable read.

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My First Book Duet: My First Book by Jerome K. Jerome and many well-known authors of the day.

Total running time: 9 hrs 9 mins

This is not a children’s book, as may be supposed from the title, but a collection of essays first published in The Idler magazine, in which over twenty well-known writers describe with characteristic style and humour their experiences in producing their first book… and getting it published.

The recording is a duet, because the works of two of the authors are not yet in the Public Domain for me, although they are out of copyright in the USA. Patti Cunningham kindly agreed to record the remaining two chapters.

Authors include Jerome K. Jerome, R. L. Stevenson, Bret Harte, Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Braddon. Full of charm, humour and pathos, this book is like a fireside chat with authors of the past, as well as being a fascinating insight into the literary scene of the late 19th century.

The listener is warned that a few of the chapters contain spoilers, especially in cases where the publisher insisted on the author changing the ending of his book. Links to online texts of the works discussed are provided where available.

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Reminiscences of Captain Gronow Reminiscences of Captain Gronow by Captain Rees Howell Gronow

Total running time: 5 hrs 54 mins

A collection of memoirs about the Peninsular War, the Battle of Waterloo, and society and personalities of Regency London and 19th century Paris, by a sometime Grenadier Guards officer, unsuccessful parliamentarian, and dandy. Gronow displays social attitudes of the day which would now be regarded as unacceptable, but is a clever raconteur who brings to life both the horrors of war and the gaiety of high society.

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One Comment on “Solo: Memoirs and Travelogues”

  1. globularity Says:

    Ms. Golding,

    I am currently enjoying your reading of Faces and Places. I previously listened to The Fearsome Island, by Albert Kinross, a rather slight book, but great fun in your hands. Thank you so much for the fine work you do at Librivox. I look forward to discovering more!

    David Morrison


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