ESTWA 2020

World-Class Shortlist Announced for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2020

Now in its fifth year, the prestigious Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards (ESTWA) exists to champion the very best travel writing in the world. The nominations include both multi-award winning titles and debut authors with books that will both stimulate thought and inspire travel, while bringing lesser-known parts of the world sharply into focus.

The shortlist of 57 books, divided into ten awards categories, will take the reader on a fascinating, and sometimes challenging, voyage into our planet’s past and future, across the seven continents and into hidden corners and unexplored cultures.

Vivien Godfrey, Chairman and Chief Executive of Stanfords, says, “We’re delighted to announce this year’s shortlist; a sensational line up of immensely talented writers across the full spectrum of the travel writing genre.

“The calibre and diversity of the books on the shortlist make the judging process extremely difficult! But I’m incredibly proud of Stanfords’ long history in supporting the world’s greatest adventurers and travel enthusiasts, and these awards champion our extraordinary authors”

The winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award, in association with The Authors Club, will receive £2,500 at the awards ceremony which takes place at The London Transport Museum on 26th February 2020. The event will be compered by former Countryfile and Wish You Were Here presenter and author Julia Bradbury.

The formidable judging panel includes explorer Benedict Allen, authors Jonathan Lorie, Julia Wheeler and Nick Hunt, magazine editors Phoebe Smith (Wanderlust) and Amy Sohanpaul (Wexas’ Traveller magazine), the President of the Booksellers’ Association Nic Bottomley, bloggers Paul Cheney and Tim Hannigan as well as Tina Hartas, MD of Trip Fiction website, WHSmith and Waterstones’ buyers and the senior Stanfords team.

Each winner will be presented with a hand-made globe featuring a design produced exclusively for the ESTWAs.

The final award is the Edward Stanford Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing. The previous winners were Colin Thubron, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Jan Morris.

The full shortlist can be found below:



Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year

Titles have been selected in this category for their innovative and/or literary merit with content which is relevant, useful or inspiring to travellers:

Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Underland: Robert Macfarlane, (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin General)

 On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Road Trip

On the Plain of Snakes: Paul Theroux (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin General)

Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe

Epic Continent: Nicholas Jubber (John Murray)

Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country

Lotharingia: Simon Winder (Picador)

The Bells of Old Tokyo: Travels in Japanese Time
The Bells of Old Tokyo: Anna Sherman (Picador)

Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89
Last Days in Old Europe: Richard Bassett (Allen Lane)


Cicerone Fiction, with a Sense of Place

These shortlisted fictional novels have been selected for their highly developed and integral sense of a real location interwoven within the plot or narrative:

The Pine Islands
The Pine Islands: Marion Poschmann,
translated by Jen Calleja (Serpent’s Tail)


Snegurochka: Judith Heneghan (Salt)


The Parisian
The Parisian: Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape, Vintage Publishing)

Love In No Man's Land
Love in No Man’s Land: Duo Ji Zhuo Ga (Head of Zeus)

Bangkok Wakes to Rain
Bangkok Wakes To Rain: Pitchaya Sudbanthad
(Hodder & Stoughton, Sceptre)

Little Faith
Little Faith: Nickolas Butler (Faber & Faber)



Steppes Travel Adventure Travel Book of the Year

This award will go to an author of an accessible non-fiction book, describing an individual’s personal adventure or recounting an historical life or expedition:

Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth

Outpost: Dan Richards (Canongate Books)

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Wildest Horse Race

Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Wildest Horse Race:
Lara Prior-Palmer (Ebury Press, PRH)

From the Lion's Mouth: A Journey Along the Indus

From the Lion’s Mouth: A Journey Along the Indus, Iain Campbell
(Bradt Travel Guides)

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life:
Mark Synnott (Atlantic Books – Allen and Unwin)

Where There's A Will: Hope, Grief and Endurance in a Cycle Race Across a Continent

Where There’s A Will: Emily Chappell (Pursuit Books)

Journeys in the Wild: The Secret Life of a Cameraman

Journeys in the Wild: The Secret Life of a Cameraman: Gavin Thurston (Seven Dials – Orion)


Children’s Travel Book of the Year

These fiction or non-fiction titles for young readers have been selected as they inspire a love of travel, exploration and adventure:


The Lost Book of Adventure: from the Notebooks of the Unknown Adventurer

The Lost Book of Adventure: from the notebooks of the Unknown

Together: Animal Partnerships in the Wild

Together: Isabel Otter and Clover Robin (Little Tiger Group / Caterpillar)

Prisoners of Geography: Our World Explained in 12 Simple Maps

Prisoners of Geography: Tim Marshall (Elliott & Thomson and Simon & Schuster Childrens UK)

Darwin's Voyage of Discovery

Darwin’s Voyage of Discovery: Jake Williams (Pavilion Children’s Books)

Fire Girl, Forest Boy

Fire Girl, Forest Boy: Chloe Daykin (Faber Children’s)

Incredible Journeys: Discovery, Adventure, Danger, Endurance

Incredible Journeys: Levison Wood, illustrated by Sam Brewster (Hachette Children’s)

APA Publications Travel Memoir of the Year

These books give accounts of some extraordinary lives and the travels that moulded them:

A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations
A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations: Pico Iyer (Bloomsbury)


Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers
Footnotes: Peter Fiennes (Oneworld)


Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age
Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses
of the Golden Age: Sara Wheeler (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)

Just Another Mountain: A Memoir

Just Another Mountain: A Memoir: Sarah Jane Douglas
(Elliott & Thompson Ltd)

The Summer Isles: A Voyage of the Imagination

The Summer Isles: Philip Marsden (Granta)

North Korea Journal

North Korea Journal: Michael Palin (Hutchinson)

Dorling Kindersley Illustrated Travel Book of the Year

This award is for a book of illustrations relating to travel, adventure or world cultures. Focused either on a single location or the entire World, with limited accompanying text:

The Sky Atlas: The Greatest Maps, Myths and Discoveries of the Universe

The Sky Atlas: Edward Brooke-Hitching (Simon & Schuster)


Atlas of Vanishing Places: The Lost Worlds As They Were And As They Are Today
Atlas of Vanishing Places – The lost worlds as they were and as they are today:
Travis Elborough (White Lion Publishing)


Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes
Silk Roads: Susan Whitfield (Thames & Hudson)


Brilliant Maps: An Atlas for Curious Minds
Brilliant Maps: Ian Wright (Granta)

Atlas of Unusual Borders

The Atlas of Unusual Borders: Zoran Nikolic (Collins)

Airline Maps: A Century of Art and Design

Airline Maps: Mark Ovenden & Maxwell Roberts (Penguin, Particular)


Photography Travel Book of the Year

This award is for a book of photography relating to travel, adventure or world cultures. Focused either on a single location or the entire World, with limited accompanying text:

 Japanese Gardens: A Journey

Japanese Gardens: Monty Don, Photographed by Derry Moore
(Two Roads, Hachette)

Remembering Lions
Remembering Lions: Wildlife Photographers United
(Remembering Wildlife)

Remarkable Road Trips

Remarkable Road Trips: Colin Salter
(Salamander, Pavilion Books)

Forest: Walking Among Trees
Forest: Walking Among Trees: Matt Collins,
photography by Roo Lewis (Pavilion Books)

Trope London

Trope London: Sam Landers (Editor),
Tom Maday (Editor) (Trope Edition/INGRAM)

Two Wheels South: An Adventure Guide for Motorcycle Explorers

Two Wheels South: Matias Corea & Gestalten (Gestalten)

Travel Cookery Book of the Year

A shortlist of cookbooks or non-fiction food writing focused on a particular national cuisine or telling of food related exploration/travel which capture a true sense of the place’s identity and culture:

Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity

Be My Guest: Priya Basil (Canongate Books)

Forest Feast Mediterranean: Simple Vegetarian Recipes

The Forest Feast Mediterranean:
Simple Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by My Travels: Erin Gleeson (Abrams)

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia
Fire Island: Recipes from Indonesia: Eleanor Ford (Murdoch Books)

Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian and Plant-Based Recipes

Bazaar: Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley)

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it All with Rene Redzepi, the World's Greatest Chef

Hungry: Jeff Gordinier (Icon Books)


AMA: Betty Hallock (Author), Josef Centeno (Author),
Ren Fuller (Photographer) (Chronicle)

Lonely Planet Debut Travel Writer of the Year

This is a new category for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards and the selected titles are valuable debuts by the authors to the genre of travel writing:

Salt On Your Tongue: Women and the Sea

Salt on Your Tongue: Charlotte Runcie
(Canongate Books)

Mind is the Ride

Mind is the Ride: Jet McDonald

Country of Larks: A Chiltern Journey: In the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson and the footprint of HS2

The Country of Larks: A Chiltern Journey,
Gail Simmons (Bradt Travel Guides)

That Untravell'd World: Seven Journeys Through Turkey

That Untravell’d World: Seven Journeys Through Turkey:
Nicholas Dylan Ray (Signal Books Ltd)

Extreme Economies: Survival, Failure, Future - Lessons from the World's Limits

Extreme Economies: Richard Davies
(Transworld – Bantam Press)

Sovietistan: A Journey Through Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Sovietistan: Erika Fatland, translated by Kari Dickson
(MacLehose Press)

Bradt Travel Guides New Travel Writer of the Year

The writer of the winning story for this award will win a fantastic break for two in Portugal, courtesy of Wexas and TAP Air Portugal, as well as a commission to write an article about their trip for Wexas Traveller magazine. All three finalists win a place on the next Bradt Travel-Writing Seminar, run in conjunction with Travellers’ Tales.

Closer to Home by Kirstin Zhang

Just Visiting by Chris Baker

Of Straws that Break Camels’ Backs by Christopher Walsh

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