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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL TIME CLASSIC IN PRINT AGAIN !
I rate this book as the best ever of its type. After many years abroad, Morton set out in his car one morning in the mid-twenties and went on a tour of his home country. The record of the trip is presented in this book. The contrast between England seventy-five years ago and the England of today is of course a huge one, but one of the themes of this book is the gulf...
Published on 12 May 2000

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Paean to a Chocolate-Box England
This is a review of the Methuen 2013 paperback edition of a book originally published in 1927. I was inspired to read this book by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood's own volume with the same title.

Morton opens his tale with the statement that, "This is the record of a motor-car journey round England ... I have gone round England like a magpie, picking up...
Published 8 months ago by Nicholas Casley


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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL TIME CLASSIC IN PRINT AGAIN !, 12 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
I rate this book as the best ever of its type. After many years abroad, Morton set out in his car one morning in the mid-twenties and went on a tour of his home country. The record of the trip is presented in this book. The contrast between England seventy-five years ago and the England of today is of course a huge one, but one of the themes of this book is the gulf between twenties England and the England of Morton's boyhood. Morton visits many well-known landmarks on his travels and his excellent, affectionate descriptions allow the reader to appreciate the changes that have taken place. The best recommendation I can give is that this book makes the reader want to get into their car and follow in Morton's footsteps (or perhaps tyre-tracks) and see the country in which they might live, but with which they are surprisingly unfamiliar.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars H V Morton vs Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux, 6 Jun 2000
This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
Picked up a reprinted copy of In search of England (& In Search of Ireland) recently, very enjoyable, especially comparing H V Morton's impressions and experiences against Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island) & Paul Theroux (Kingdom by the Sea). England in the late 20's seems idyllic, no mention of traffic jams, noise, pollution etc. but idle conversations are still a great pleasure to the lone traveller.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A national treasure, 12 May 2008
This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
This is, simply, a wonderful book that is an utter joy to read. It must be a mark of the quality of writing that, reading over 80 years later, you still feel as if the ink hasn't yet dried, so fresh and immediate is the style.

In an engagingly witty journey through (mostly rural) England in the late 1920s, Mr Morton's writing conjures up all the sights and sounds that he encounters, from haunted gothic ruins to sunny vicarage gardens.

Throughout the writing, Mr Morton's affection and awe for the land, its people and its history come through. And it's refreshing to read a book devoid of the sort of cynicism and pessimism that marks much modern writing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reverence for a green and pleasant land, 10 May 2010
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of England (Paperback)
"... there rose up in my mind the picture of a village street at dusk with a smell of wood smoke lying in the still air and, here and there, little red blinds shining in the dusk under the thatch. I remembered how the church bells ring at home, and how, at that time of year, the sun leaves a dull red bar low down in the west, and against it the elms grow blacker minute by minute. Then the bats start to flicker like little bits of burnt paper and you hear the slow jingle of a team coming home from the fields ... When you think like this, sitting alone in a foreign country, you know all there is to learn about heartache."
- H.V. Morton, homesick for England

First published in 1927, IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND bears testimony to Henry Morton's love affair with his homeland. For those of us that are citizens of elsewhere who are otherwise lovers of England and everything English, the volume joins Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and the trilogy by Susan Allen Toth (My Love Affair with England, England as You Like It, and England for All Seasons) as absolutely required reading. All five books are declarations of love.

Having traveled all over England myself, as well as Wales and Scotland, during multiple visits, I could immediately relate to Morton's experiences at a number of unforgettable places: Salisbury, Winchester, St. Just-in-Roseland, Tintagel, Clovelly, Glastonbury, the Lake District, Hadrian's Wall, Durham, York, Lincoln, and Norwich. (I'm only perplexed that he apparently failed to visit so many others that I could name!)

The fact that Morton made his clockwise circuit of the kingdom eighty-three years ago is only evident by his reference to charabancs, the addition of water to his car's radiator, and an evening's entertainment with some isolated locals in the far reaches of Cornwall - listening to a broadcast from London's Savoy on the wireless. Otherwise, his experiences might just as well be contemporary.

At times, the author's prose approaches the sublime, as this entry from Shrewsbury:

"When I drew back the (hotel) bedroom's curtains, the moonlight printed itself green on the floor. It ran over the bed and lay slantwise upon a grim wardrobe that stood in the shadow of the ancient oak-beamed room. A proper Puckish night, with the green wash over hill and field, a night for elfin horns and mushroom rings and strange scurryings in thicket and copse. Somewhere near, a dog, unable to sleep and not knowing why - poor little lost wolf - whimpered restlessly."

California has been my home state for 58 years. Yet, even during my two lengthy residencies away - 12 months in Illinois and 15 months in Mississippi, I wouldn't have been able to write such an affectionate tribute to the Golden State as Morton delivers for his birthplace. The fact that I myself could perhaps pen one about Great Britain, and England in particular, is indicative of my devotion to the place. On my occasional returns to the island, my feeling on the aircraft's final approach to Heathrow or Gatwick is one of returning home. IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND is a reminder why my affection runs so deep. Sitting here at my computer in Glendale, CA, I miss that green and pleasant land so very, very much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful travelogue, 25 Aug 2013
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This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
After many years abroad, H.V. Morton set out one morning in the mid-1920s, in his Morris two-seater car, on a tour of his home country.

This book was published on 2nd June 1927. It is now in its 40th printing with its original publisher in the UK. One British newspaper described the book as "travel writing at its best. Bill Bryson must weep when he reads it." I agree. The book is an absolute delight. The best travel writing inspires the reader to want to go and visit the places described. I came away from this book with a list of places to visit, or revisit. I was also inspired to look up many of the places he visited online. Many still look every bit as charming as H.V. Morton's descriptions.

H.V. Morton was writing at a time when people were less mobile. Interestingly he still describes traffic jams in the Lake District, and seems to encounter American tourists wherever he goes. He also stumbles across many old customs and skills that would have been in their death throes at the time he was writing, for example he describes flint-knappers in Norfolk, a skill that was already all but extinct.

Morton's writing is frequently sublime. It is fairly obvious that the reality cannot have been quite so perfect and that he must have made up some of the account. As the trauma of World War One started to diminish I suspect many readers wanted this type of pleasing portrait of England as a place of tradition, stability, history, country lanes, village greens, outstanding beauty, quirky characters and traditional pubs serving warm ale and cheese. The book's conclusion perfectly illustrates this romanticised view:

"I went out into the churchyard where the green stones nodded together, and I took up a handful of earth and felt it crumble and run through my fingers, thinking that as long as one English field lies against another there is something left in the world for a man to love.

'Well', smiled the vicar as he walked towards me between the yew trees, 'that, I am afraid, is all we have'.

'You have England', I said."

It is interesting to consider the extent to which it is acceptable to embellish or romanticise accounts of travel. For me it matters not a jot and I have no hesitation in recommending this delightful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of England, 9 Aug 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
While ill and abroad, the author found that he missed England with a passion and, on his return, set out to find his version of the rural idyll. This is the story of his travels, by motor car, around England, which was first published in 1927. The 1920's were a time when coach trips were extremely popular and had made much of the countryside open to more people - even more so than the railways. The author both extols the delights of popular travel, while bemoaning the 'vulgarization' of the country. Although delightful, this is certainly not an unbiased version of the authors travels - his thoughts are clear for all to see. If he doesn't like a place, finds fault with a tourist spot or is unhappy, then you will certainly know about it. For example, he enters Wigan, "expecting the worst" and finds Norfolk, "the most suspicious county in England." Despite his many stereotypes and personal biases though, he is generally enthusiastic and willing to be pleased, as he strikes up endless conversations and searches out people and places of interest.

As the author says himself, it is a curious characteristic of the English scenery to change in a few miles. We certainly see a range of places through his eyes, from Stonehenge, to Dartmoor, the ruins of Glastonbury, Hadrian's Wall and endless inns, cathedrals and churches. Although this was written so long ago, it is reassuring to see that the generation gap was still the same, with a cockle gatherer claiming that they were the last of their kind as, "girls today want to be ladies.... and they don't like hard work either." Whether ill and writing essays while, "under the influence of a cocaine pill and a raw egg" or being side tracked by women luring him into teashops, "I believe the Crusades could have been stopped by a Dorsetshire tea," he is wonderful company. This travel book is a delight and will show you the England between the wars with a most enthusiastic and illuminating guide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gentle and Absorbing Read, 2 Feb 2013
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This review is from: In Search Of England (Paperback)
Like many of his other books H V Morton manages to impart so much knowledge in a lucid and easily read style. Although written many years ago the book gives a wonderful impression of times passed and is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1927. It is the best way of discovering how the country survived and was pulling itself together after the devastation of the First World War - a time of great change, but still looking back to Edwardian times. The onslaught of the motor car and motorbike and the end of horse-drawn vehicles, and the opening up of the countryside. So much of the England that he writes about has vanished forever although there are still nooks and corners where ancient festivals are held to this day.

This is a lovely book that deserves to be enjoyed by everyone who reads it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Paean to a Chocolate-Box England, 15 Nov 2013
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
This is a review of the Methuen 2013 paperback edition of a book originally published in 1927. I was inspired to read this book by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood's own volume with the same title.

Morton opens his tale with the statement that, "This is the record of a motor-car journey round England ... I have gone round England like a magpie, picking up any bright thing that pleased me. A glance at the route followed will prove that this is not a guide-book ... it was a moody holiday." It is not long before Morton manifests a patronising quality, noting how coach services have "thrown open to ordinary people regions which even after the coming of the railway were remote and inaccessible."

In his introduction we come across words and phrases that now are socially embarrassing or politically dubious: "vulgarization", "barbaric lack of manners", "class", "common racial heritage" - all these on just one page. Morton continues with "virile and progressive nation", "racial survival", "racial anaemia", and "the traditions of the race." After World War Two, Morton moved to South Africa.

"This, then, is my adventure," he writes, "the road calling me out into England. It does not matter where I go, for it is all England." Yet Morton's journey notably eschews the large industrial centres and focuses instead on the countryside and county towns. He remarks, "History proves to us that a nation cannot live by its town alone: it tells us that the virile and progressive nation is that which can keep pace with the modern industrial world and at the same time support a contented and flourishing peasantry." That last word is another that no commentator today would dare use to describe the agricultural labourer.

The author continues, "I will see what lies off the beaten track ... I will accept anything, and everything, that comes my way in rain or sun along the road." But Michael Wood advises we should take this professed arbitrariness about Morton's route and his spontaneity with a large dose of salt. He knew where he was going and what he wanted to see.

Morton spends less time in the north of England than in the Midlands or south. Whereas Devon and Cornwall see a stop every fifty miles or so, Morton apparently sees nothing of interest between Durham and York or between York and Lincoln, just as the jump from Chester to the Lake District had only one stop of consequence inbetween: Wigan.

Morton does make some insightful comments, such as the "middle-aged motorist who ... had been too busy making money all his life to be more than eight years old in other things." And Morton can wax lyrical too when the inspiration strikes, no more so than at Glastonbury, where "in the first hour of a summer's day the Isle of Avalon remembers Arthur."

Perhaps this romanticism is what made - and continues to make - this book popular. But a prosaic contrast is never too far away, soon followed by a witticism, and then a choice simile or metaphor, such as that living in Bath is "like sitting in the lap of a dear old lady ... one of those old ladies who have outlived a much-discussed past, and are now as obviously respectable as only old ladies with crowded pasts can be ... experience mellowed by age."

And his journey IS well-written and full of clever metaphors and short, snappy turns-of-phrase. On the Isle of Portland and its stone quarries, he remarks how, "As I walked along the dusty roads of the island, which dazzle the eyes like snow in sunlight [they do], I thought not only of the buildings which Portland has already given to London, but of the London to be which we will never walk, that slumbers still in darkness in the womb of this pregnant isle." Or how about Morton's question asking, "Is there a more magnificent sight in England than a large field of wheat ripe for the reaping? Such rich gold; such tall majestic stalks like legions of gold arrows."

But it is Morton's negative prejudice that jars. The Cornish, he writes, "Like the Welsh, ... possess a fine Celtic fluency, so that their lies are more convincing than a Saxon truth." I suppose he thinks this is some kind of compliment. And at the Roman remains at Wroxeter, what do we hear? Why, "We have a little Jew here who is making a fortune out of all the new hair bands which all the girls of Uriconium are buying." The cry from antiquity is meant to be imaginary, but it allows him in this one sentence to reveal two attitudes that are out of place today.

And if it isn't race, it's sex. Morton's incessant commentary on women - their figures, their dress, their charm - would today earn him the title of being `a lech'. And if he isn't chatting to and about them, then it's to and about Americans, often using them as a foil to display English steadfastness and intelligence. At times he seems besotted with Americans. And I won't even mention Morton's espousal of cocaine pills (see pages 238-9).

Morton signs off his journey with a paean to an adored Tory, chocolate-box England, where old vicars drink port, timelessness is lauded, and everyone knows their place. Bah! Andrew Marr got it right when he remarked that Morton "was looking for a lost green land. He was a little late." Now it's time for me to read what will hopefully be a more truthful tale and a more telling eye of the real England between the wars, namely J B Priestley's `English Journey'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars See my comments on "Sccotland" and "Wales", 7 Oct 2013
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This review is from: In Search of England (Paperback)
Very wide coverage but neglelcted my own partiular area and not as much as i would have liked about The Yorkshire Dales. Very, very good treatment of Southern counties, however.
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4.0 out of 5 stars well writen books, 13 Aug 2013
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great author all his books a great read a pity we have not got more like he was easy to read and history lessons in the book.
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In Search of England
In Search of England by H. V. Morton (Paperback - 13 April 2000)
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