The Internet-based HV Morton Society was founded on 15th December 2003 by Peter Devenish of Western Australia and Kenneth Fields of Lancashire, England. Since then membership has increased steadily, with numbers standing at 252 as of February 2013.
The Society aims to promote interest in, and provide a means for the exchange of views and information on, the life and work of the travel writer and journalist HV Morton.
Membership, which is free, provides a way to get to know other members, is a means of contributing items of interest regarding Morton and receiving regular bulletins that provide updates on the latest research about his life and works. Members also learn about rare and interesting pieces of “Mortonalia”, get an insight into Morton from correspondence and papers, and learn some of the background to Morton’s works together with his family history.
Over the years a considerable amount of fascinating information concerning HV Morton has been imparted to the society in this way. I began to catalogue the bulletins to make it easier for me to refer to them when I first joined the society in 2005. Now, with the permission of the society, I have been able to make many of them available to members online. In September 2012 I was appointed coordinator of the society, taking over from founder member Peter Devenish who had served some nine years in the post since the society was first begun.
If you would like to join this group, if you would like to be put in touch with other “Mortonites” world-wide, and if you would like to be informed of news concerning HV Morton from time to time, then please first have a look at this page then click the link at the bottom to join.
When you register, please let me know which town/city and country you are from.
H.V. Morton Society Bulletins
What is Morton’s rarest work? What does Hall i’ th’ Wood, a Tudour house visited by Morton in 1927, look like today? Was Morton really travelling alone while compiling his books? What did Prime Minister Winston Churchill think of Morton's only work of fiction? Which of Morton’s words were set to music by Czechoslovakian composer Martinu (and why was Wally Wombat disappointed when he heard them)? What is the connection between HV Morton, Marilyn Monroe and the scooter ridden by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the film “A Holiday in Rome”?
These questions and many more have been addressed by the many regular bulletins sent out to members of the HV Morton society by the coordinator. Every week or so members are treated to snippets of information about Morton, his life and works. His travels, ocean cruises and friendships are discussed; books are reviewed, correspondence scrutinised. The motivation behind many of his works is analysed and people generally have their say about anything and everything that concerns them about Morton from poetry to holiday snaps.
The bulletins are concise and well laid out in a regular style. They come under a variety of topics and are often accompanied by pictures, some of them quite exquisite, depicting book covers, locations on Morton’s journeys, magazine illustrations and much more.
Much of the work represents considerable effort on the part of the contributors and as such is subject to copyright restrictions. Readers are asked to read and respect the copyright information available from the link at the bottom of each page.
Click here to see a full index of these excellent works. The online archive itself is password protected and available to HV Morton society members only. To join the society and gain access please click here. If you are a member of the society and would like to be able to access this online archive of bulletins please contact me for details.
Niall Taylor 2012
(revised: 20 September 2013)
An outline of the life and works of H.V. Morton
by Kenneth Fields
[Kenneth Fields has published a complete biography of HV Morton entitled 'H.V. Morton: The life of an enchanted traveller'. A review and purchasing details are available elsewhere on this web site]
Henry Canova Vollam Morton (H.V. Morton) was a best-selling author and journalist, born on the 26 July 1892 at 17, Chester Square, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England. His father Joseph Morton, born in India in 1864, was employed as a journalist and editor on the Ashton Herald and his mother Marguerite Ewart had been born in Scotland. In 1897 Joseph became Editor of the newly launched Manchester Evening News and the family moved to Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, where they remained until 1901. They then moved to Moseley, Birmingham where Joseph rose to become the Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper group.
After attending King Edward’s School in Birmingham H.V. Morton began training as a reporter on the Birmingham Gazette and Express. In 1913 he moved to London working as Editor of the Empire Magazine and then as a sub-editor on the Daily Mail. During the First World War he enlisted in The Warwickshire Yeomanry and in 1915 he married Dorothy Vaughton in Birmingham. They had three children, Michael (1919), Barbara (1922) and John (1926), but their marriage ended in divorce in 1933.
In 1919 he joined the editorial staff at the Evening Standard in London and in 1921 he moved on to the Daily Express as a sub-editor and feature writer. His big break came in 1923 when he attended the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor, Egypt, out manoeuvring the official Times correspondent to obtain his story. On his return to England he then wrote a long series of outstanding features about life in London that proved highly popular due to his unique gift as a descriptive writer. Some of these were published by Methuen in his first book The Heart of London (1925).
In 1926 he began a light-hearted motor-car tour around England driving a bull-nosed Morris and his adventures appeared daily in the pages of the Express under the title In Search of England. This was published in book form the following year, becoming a best seller, and establishing him as the most popular travel writer of the period. It led to a series of his acclaimed In Search of … volumes being published, in which he explored every corner of Britain and Ireland.
In 1931 he became a special writer with the Daily Herald in London and following his divorce from Dorothy in 1933 he went to live in the secluded village of Binsted in Hampshire. The following year he married Mary Muskett, the divorced daughter of a retired tea planter, and they had one child, Timothy, who was born in 1937.
Now turning his pen to foreign travel he began a tour of the Holy Land, exploring those places known to Christ. In the Steps of the Master (1934) became his most popular volume, leading him to complete a biblical trilogy with In The Steps of St. Paul (1936) and Through Lands of the Bible (1938).
During the Second World War, due to his earlier military training, he was put in charge of his local Home Guard Platoon at Binsted. His volumes published at this time include: I, James Blunt (1942), I Saw Two Englands (1942) and Atlantic Meeting (1943), which uniquely capture the turmoil of the period.
After the war he continued his foreign travel by exploring South Africa. Following the publication of his book, In Search of South Africa (1948), he then decided to settle in the country, making his family home at Somerset West in Cape Province. This was to become his base for all his future writings over the next three decades, which included journeys through Spain, Italy and the Holy Land.
H.V. Morton died on the 19 June 1979, aged 86, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered close to his home. But his literary legacy lives on in the outstanding quality of his writings, which continue to be an inspiration to each new generation of travellers.