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An engaging and informative first-hand account of the last ‘grain race’ of maritime history, from respected travel writer Eric Newby.
In 1939, a young Eric Newby – later renowned as a travel writer of exceptional talent – set sail aboard Moshulu, the largest sailing ship still employed in the transportation of grain from Australia to Europe. Every year from 1921 to 1939, the vessels involved in the grain trade would strive to find the shortest, fastest passage home – ‘the grain race’ – in the face of turbulent seas, atrocious weather conditions and hard graft.
First published in 1956, ‘The Last Grain Race’, featuring many photographs from the author’s personal collection, celebrates both the spirit of adventure and the thrill of sailing on the high seas. Newby’s first-hand account – engaging and informative, with frequent bursts of humour and witty observations from both above and below deck – chronicles this classic sailing voyage of the Twenties and Thirties, and records the last grain race of maritime history.
‘Enthralling – I know of no other book about square-riggers that gives such a lively account of the daily round of men in the fo’c’sle’ Sunday Times
‘Indescribably pungent … impossible to read without laughing’ Observer
‘Mr Newby proves himself to be a first-rate writer … Years have dulled nothing of the spirit of his first voyage; he gives exactly the feel of working a tall ship in hard conditions; he did not just see these things; he felt and can convey them; the crew of “Moshulu” live, move and are real human beings – and go on living when the book is closed’ Times Literary Supplement
About the author
ERIC NEWBY was born in London in 1919 and was educated at St Paul’s School. In 1938, he joined the four-masted Finnish barque ‘Moshulu’ as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Ireland by way of Australia and Cape Horn. During World War II, he served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section. In 1942, he was captured and remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945. He subsequently married the girl who helped him escape, and for the next fifty years, his wife Wanda was at his side on many adventures. After the war, his world expanded still further – into the fashion business and book publishing. Whatever else he was doing, Newby always travelled on a grand scale, either under his own steam or as the Travel Editor for the Observer. He was made a CBE in 1994 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. Eric Newby died in 2006.