The Journeying Boy

The Journeying Boy: Scenes from a Welsh childhood

Memoir by Jon Manchip White
2nd Edition
336 pages
Published in December 1998
ISBN: 0916078442


The Journeying Boy is a beautifully crafted travelogue, a charming history of Wales, and a nostalgic look back at one man's varied and interesting life. Jon Manchip White returns to his native Wales for the first time in twenty years and discovers that time has wrought immense change to this unusual and mysterious little country in the United Kingdom. While touring the country, White recounts his childhood in Cardiff, where his fore bears had lived since Norman times, spawning an entertaining crew of rich men and ne'er-do-wells, shipowners, sea captains, buccaneers, and murders. From Cardiff, White travels to the coal country of Glamorgan and the Black Mountains, introducing an amazing panoply of odd Welsh characters, past and present: from kings and queens, poets and writers, to warriors, coal miners, and seamen. At the heart of the story is the singular and tragic nature of the Welsh race--their language, their religion, their passion for music and literature, their love of life, and their obsession with death.


Humping my single bag, I make my way across the concourse of Paddington Station to the platform where the train to South Wales stands waiting. Already, a full twenty minutes before the train is due to leave, I feel a surge of that anxiety, almost a sense of panic, that I felt on the plane two nights ago, coming over from America. Flying the 4,000 miles across the Atlantic from Atlanta to Gatwick, I had already found myself questioning the wisdom of setting out across "the bitter, salt, estranging sea" from my place of exile in Tennessee.  Wasn't this visit to Britain, and especially to my native Wales, bound to be painful? Why stir up old memories? Why pick at ancient scabs? What was the point of it? Though I was still a British citizen, this would only be my fourth trip to Britain since I had left it twenty years ago, to spend ten years in Texas and another ten years in Tennessee. How long was it since I was last in Wales? Twelve years, was it? Thirteen? Wouldn't it have been more sensible to leave the thing alone? Why risk resurrecting old griefs, or expose myself to the even greater sadness of revisiting places where I once was happy? Perhaps it was such fears that in the last twenty years had led me to visit Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Italy, France, Spain--any where but Britain, and especially Wales.


Praise for The Journeying Boy:
"The Journeying Boy is a touching and evocative book, part autobiography, part family chronicle, part Welsh history, part travelogue. This is as it should be, for White is clearly a man of parts: novelist, historian, biographer, teacher, traveler. He does all of it very well indeed...He brings Wales palpably alive, and arouses in the distant reader a hot yearning to visit it." --Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post


Author Biography:
Jon Manchip White was born in Cardiff, the Welsh capital and once one of the world's great ports. His ancestors were mostly a seafaring people. White inherited their love of travel, adventure, as well as, their great ability as storytellers. White is the author of over thirty books of fiction, poetry, history, travel, and biography, including The Land God Made in Anger and The Great American Desert. After studying at Cambridge University, White was a sailor in the Royal Navy, a soldier in the Welsh Guards, and a member of the British foreign service. He then settled in the United States and was a professor at the   University of Texas for ten years before becoming the holder of the Lindsay Young Chair of English at the University of Tennessee. The author currentlylives and writes in Knoxville, TN.

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