When it comes to travel inspiration, nothing beats reading books about explorers of yesteryear. The First English Explorer by Kit Mayers looks at the life of explorer Anthony Jenkinson, one of the unsung heroes of the Elizabethan age.
The First English Explorer
The Elizabethan age must have been a fascinating time to live through. Fuelled by the spirit of the Renaissance, and a desire to discover new lands, Englishmen set off in every direction in a search for adventure, glory, and wealth. Some of those people, such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh are well known. Others, such as Anthony Jenkinson seem to have become forgotten. The First English Explorer by Kit Mayers seeks to correct that. It is a well researched study into this little known pioneer of overland exploration.
By some coincidence, Anthony Jenkinson was born in Market Harborough, just a few miles away from my home town of Northampton. I daresay it looks a little different today than it did back in 1529 when he was born though! As the second son of a wealthy landowner, he had a unique social position. This was the privilege of education, but also the knowledge that he would not inherit his father's wealth. (The custom at the time, as that the oldest son would inherit any businesses and wealth of the family).
As such, this may have been an advantage. He must have known from a young age, that he would need to find an occupation and purpose in life. And he certainly found it! He pioneered overland routes through Europe, talked with Ivan the Terrible, crossed deserts, was attacked by pirates, and may have even met Shakespeare. I don't often envy other people, but that sounds quite a life!
Travel And Exploration
The First English Explorer weighs in at 376 pages in length, and documents his extensive travels through Russia and Central Asia. The world was a very different place in the 1500's, and the words adventurous and perilous could easily be interchanged. Anthony Jenkinson seems to have been up to the task though, combining tact, diplomacy, and resourcefulness. He established trading routes and agreements, and also brought back geographical knowledge.
I found the book a fascinating read. Although it might be more of a history book than a travel book, there is no doubt that The First English Explorer is wonderful travel inspiration. Anyone interested in adventure and exploration should definitely add this to their book collection. It would also make a great Christmas gift for a travel enthusiast. You can buy the book via Amazon here – The First English Explorer.