(1940 - 1989)
“To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries. To lose a notebook was a catastrophe” 

Chatwin was a restless soul: he had a career as a director of  Impressionist art at Sotheby’s, which he gave up to study archaeology, then worked as a travel correspondent at The Sunday Times, which he gave up to wander through the Patagonia region of southern Argentina and Chile.  The book that came out of this pilgrimage, In Patagonia (1977), was considered to have 'redefined travel writing', and went on to win awards in both Britain and the US. 

Noting that Chatwin "made life difficult for booksellers, but vastly more interesting to readers," Nicholas Shakespeare calls his work "the most glamorous example of a genre in which so called ‘travel writing’ began to embrace a wider range: autobiography, philosophy, history, belles lettres, romantic fiction."  The Songlines (1987), the bestseller about a journey across the Australian outback, was even up for a prestigious travel-writing award until the author reminded the judges it was a work of fiction.

Chatwin himself described his work as “telling stories”. He told Colin Thubron “Everyone says: ‘Are you writing a novel?’ No, I’m writing a story and I do rather insist that things must be called stories. That seems to me to be what they are. I don’t quite know the meaning of the word novel.” 

By the time of his death in 1989, Bruce Chatwin had become one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century. Though his career spanned a mere twelve years, his impact and influence was profoundly felt.

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