English travel writer
Born in London, he worked briefly in advertising before joining a Finnish four-masted barque in 1938, an adventure described in The Last Grain Race (1956). For some years he worked in the clothing industry, which he eagerly left to take A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (1958). This has become a classic among travel books, humorously charting the chaotic progress of Newby and a friend through the mountains of north-east Afghanistan. In 1963, after some years as a fashion buyer to a chain of department stores, he made a 1,200-mile (1,931km) descent of the Ganges, described in Slowly Down the Ganges (1966). Later he became travel editor of The Observer (1964-73). Other significant books are The Big Red Train Ride (1978), the story of a journey from Moscow to the Pacific on the Trans-Siberian Railway; his autobiography, A Traveller's Life (1982); and Round Ireland in Low Gear (1987), about a mountain-bike journey. Later works include What the Traveller Saw (1989), A Small Place in Italy (1994), Departures and Arrivals (1999) and A Book of Lands and Peoples (2003). He was awarded a CBE in 1994.