Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing
We were delighted to award Michael Palin with the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing 2016. This award recognises the great contribution Michael has given to the travel writing genre over many years.
It all started nearly 30 years ago when the actor, writer and, most famously, Python, embarked on his first adventure. Around the World in 80 Days, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel, saw him recreate Phileas Fogg’s legendary journey, circumnavigating the globe without the use of aircraft, but accompanied by a BBC television crew. The documentary was acclaimed and Palin’s book a bestseller. He had been transformed from, in his own words, a very silly person to a very silly explorer.
What followed were more journeys across the globe, beautifully captured on film, recreated in pictures and retold in the written word. He has written a further seven bestselling books to accompany the travel series, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil.
Born in Sheffield in 1942, Palin went on to attend Oxford University and started penning comedy material and plays. But 1969 was the turning point, for more than one reason. It was the year he joined up with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones for the first series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, broadcast on BBC Television. But, perhaps, more importantly, it was the year he started keeping a diary.
It stood him in perfect stead for travel writing. When journeying across the world he always used longhand to jot the day’s events in his notebook. Looking back brought the experiences back to life, with grains of desert sand stuck between the pages and the smear of a crushed insect still visible. His ability to bring those sights, scents, sounds and encounters to life for readers will surely earn him a place among the pantheon of travel writing greats.