Horatio Clare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Horatio Clare
Born 1973 (age 40–41)
London, England
Nationality British
Genre Memoir, Travel writing

Horatio Clare (born 1973) is an author and journalist. He worked at the BBC as a producer on Front Row (BBC Radio 4), Night Waves and The Verb (BBC Radio 3). He has written two memoirs, Running for the Hills and Truant: Notes from the Slippery Slope, a novella, The Prince's Pen, and two works of travel and nature writing: A Single Swallow and Down to the Sea in Ships. He wrote and edited Sicily Through Writers' Eyes.

Background and career[edit]

Born in London, Clare and his brother Alexander grew up on a hill farm in the Black Mountains of south Wales. They were raised by their mother, who had fallen in love with the mountains and with sheep farming. He later attended Malvern College and the United World College of the Atlantic before reading English at the University of York.[1] Clare describes the experiences of his childhood in his first book, Running for the Hills, in which he sets out to trace the course and causes of his parents' divorce, and recalls the eccentric, romantic and often harsh conditions of his upbringing.

Running for the Hills was a UK bestseller and was published by Scribner in the US. Reviewers saw the book as a part of a tradition of vivid British nature writing. In The Sunday Times John Carey described it as "the prose equivalent of a collection of poems by Ted Hughes or Wordsworth.".[2] Running for the Hills won a Somerset Maugham Award in 2007, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2006 and Clare was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2007.

His second book, Truant: Notes from the Slippery Slope concentrates on the political and social culture of the 1990s, seeking to explore and explain 'the mad elephant years' as the book calls them, the period in which young men are most likely to take drugs, get into fights, go to jail and commit suicide. The book follows Clare's attempts to begin a career in provincial journalism when stoned, manic or depressed, in thrall to the writings of the Romantics and inspired by Hunter S. Thompson. After a series of disastrous and eccentric escapades he ends up penniless on the streets of London, with apparent manic depression. The book tells of a kind of redemption through living and working with a crew of drug addicts and alcoholics in a Chelsea pub ("we know we are the bottle-washers in the luxury hotel of the western world", Clare writes) from where he joins the BBC and – eventually – gives up cannabis. The book surveys the long-term effect of cannabis on a diverse group of people, and ends with a passionate warning to other, younger users.

In 2009 Clare's third book, A Single Swallow: Following an epic journey from South Africa to South Wales", was published by Chatto and Windus. It recounts the author's experience of following migrating Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) from their wintering grounds in South Africa to their breeding sites in Britain. As several reviewers pointed out, the book is less concerned with the birds themselves than with the people and places along their way, and the writer's adventures. Travelling over 6000 miles in three months, via Lusaka, Brazzaville and Algiers, Clare encounters – and, mostly, befriends – emerald smugglers, the Peace Corps, environmentalists, ornithologists, spies, soldiers, slave labourers, policemen, con artists, prostitutes, officials (corrupt and otherwise) an international rugby player (Clare attempts to secure him a UK visa) and in Spain two members of the Guardia Civil, who assault him for trespassing on a missile base. A Single Swallow was widely reviewed, with critics praising its spirit of adventure and vivid portraits of contemporary Africa. Other commentators criticized the premise – notably Mark Cocker, writing in The Guardian, who said that following migrating swallows was a wonderful idea, but "there is just one problem – it's impossible." The book was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2010 and shortlisted for the Dolman/Authors' Club Travel Book Award.

In 2014 Chatto and Windus published Down To The Sea In Ships - of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men, the story of two voyages on container vessels Clare joined, owned by the Maersk Corporation, for which he was writer-in-residence. The book describes a journey to Los Angeles via Asia from Felixstowe, and a second voyage across the North Atlantic from Antwerp to Montreal. Part travelogue, part nature-writing, part history, part study of the world of container shipping and seafarers, and partly a compendium of sea stories, the book received a great deal of favourable critical attention, described as "Wonderful" in the Daily Telegraph,[3] "Both romantic and realistic, written from the heart but crafted with a seafarer's "passionate precision", by The Independent,[4] " a rolling, surging, illuminating, carry-you-with-it-like-a tidal-surge blinking masterpiece of a book, mapping as it does a parallel world which sustains the world we inhabit, literally delivering the goods," by the Wales Arts Review[5] and "Stupendous and extraordinarily exciting" by the Times.[6]

Clare is the author and editor of Sicily Through Writers' Eyes, an anthology of writings about Sicily, and a contributor to the collections Red City: Marrakech Through Writers' Eyes and Meetings With Remarkable Muslims. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Financial Times, The Sunday Telegraph and Vogue. His writing now appears regularly in The Daily Telegraph.


  • Marrakech the Red City: the City through Writers' Eyes, Sickle Moon / Eland, 2003
  • Meetings With Remarkable Muslims, Eland 2005
  • Sicily: Through Writers' Eye, Eland, 2006
  • Running for the Hills, John Murray, 2006
  • Truant: Notes from A Slippery Slope, John Murrary, 2007
  • A Single Swallow, Chatto and Windus (UK) and Nieuw Amsterdam (Netherlands), 2009
  • The Prince's Pen, Seren Books 2011, New Tales from the Mabinogion series
  • Down to the Sea in Ships, 2014


External links[edit]