Fletcher, Colin 1922-
FLETCHER, Colin 1922-
PERSONAL: Born March 14, 1922, in Cardiff, Wales; son of Herbert Reginald and Margaret Elizabeth (Williams) Fletcher; married Sonia Savage, 1947 (divorced); married Thelma Brad, 1959 (divorced). Education: Attended West Buckland School, North Devon, England, 1934-39.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Carl D. Brandt, Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents, Inc., 1501 Broadway, Ste. 2310, New York, NY 10036-5689.
CAREER: Writer. Immigrated to Kenya, 1947, working as a manufacturer's representative in Nairobi, then as manager of a hotel in Kitale, 1947-48; farmed near Nakuru, Kenya, 1948-52; road builder on a tea estate near Inyanga, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), 1952-53; prospected and helped lay out roads for a mining company in western Canada, summers, 1953-56; Polyclinic Hospital, San Francisco, CA, head janitor, 1957-58; writer. Member of Solar Lobby and Center for Law in the Public Interest. Military service: Royal Marines, commandos, 1940-47; became captain.
MEMBER: Wilderness Society, National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Common Cause, Friends of the Earth, East African Wild Life Society, Save the Redwoods League, Planning and Conservation League, Zero Population Growth, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Sea Otter, U.S. Tennis Association, Cousteau Society, Fund for Peace, Union of Concerned Scientists, Trustees for Alaska, Natural Resources Defense Fund.
The Thousand-Mile Summer: In Desert and High Sierra, Howell-North, 1964, reprinted, 1982.
The Man Who Walked through Time, Knopf (New York, NY), 1968.
The Complete Walker: The Joys and Techniques of Hiking and Backpacking, Knopf (New York, NY), 1969, fourth revised edition published as The Complete Walker IV, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.
The Winds of Mara, Knopf (New York, NY), 1973.
The Man from the Cave, Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.
The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
River: One Man's Journey down the Colorado, Source to Sea, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.
Also associated with audiotape Learn of the Green World, 1991. Contributor of text to John Sexton's Quiet Light: Fifteen Years of Photographs, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990. Contributor to Reader's Digest, Field and Stream, and other magazines in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Africa.
ADAPTATIONS: River: One Man's Journey down the Colorado, Source to Sea was read for audio cassette by Arthur Addison, Books on Tape, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Colin Fletcher, who describes himself as a "semi-professional bum," is seen in a different light by his readers. He is "a legend in his time, mostly in backpacking and hiking circles," according to Don Wismer of Library Journal. In 1953 the author made a trip from London to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on a fare of ten dollars, hitchhiking from New York to Toronto, and driving a new car west. In 1958 he made a six-month, thousand-mile walk from Mexico to Oregon, and in 1963, a two-month solitary foot trip through the Grand Canyon.
In 1968, as he was hiking in the Nevada desert, Fletcher discovered a cave once inhabited by a turn-of-the-twentieth-century prospector. This discovery led Fletcher to a ten-year exploration of the prospector's life, and to reconstruct his personality in the book The Man from the Cave. Carol Van Strom commented in a Washington Post Book World review that this work is a "touching biography of a man whose greatest gift to earth was the little harm he caused it. . . . In this tale of 'an ordinary man who was far from ordinary,' Colin Fletcher has written a far from ordinary book. . . . a work of art, a triumph, a monument to the unique spark of humanity Fletcher intuitively recognized in a wild desert cave."
In River: One Man's Journey down the Colorado, Source to Sea, Fletcher recounts the trip he made in 1989 at age sixty-seven. Traveling solo, the author forded the challenging Colorado River equipped with "raft, camera, and bourbon," as Booklist's Gilbert Taylor described it. A Publishers Weekly contributor was less than impressed with the resulting book, noting that "an incredible journey does not necessarily translate into an incredible read." However, Taylor was more welcoming of River, saying that in this travel memoir Fletcher offers "an exquisitely observant sensibility."
One distinguishing feature of Fletcher's journeying is his insistence on going it alone. The passage of time, however, has made this increasingly difficult. "When I was born, there were 1.9 billion people in the world," he told Beatrice.com interviewer Ron Hogan. "Now there's [six] billion. That speaks for itself as far as finding solitude is concerned."
The author shares his secrets to outdoor success in The Complete Walker. First published in 1968, the book had been revised and updated four times by 2002, by which time it had sold some 400,000 copies. Reviewing the third edition, Backpacker writer Annette McGivney called Fletcher a "master of combining practical advice with anecdotal asides."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Authors in the News, Volume I, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1974.
Antioch Review, winter, 1998, review of River: One Man's Journey down the Colorado, Source to Sea, p. 116.
ARTnews, November, 1990, Milton Eserow, review of Quiet Light: Fifteen Years of Photographs, p. 104.
Backpacker, October, 1990, Mark Jenkins, "The Backpacker Profile: Colin Fletcher," p. 28; August, 1997, Annette McGivney, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 40.
Booklist, May 15, 1984, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 13; May 1, 1989, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 1504; April 15, 1997, Gilbert Taylor, review of River, p. 1378.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1989, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 518; February 15, 1997, review of River, p. 269.
Kliatt, September, 1998, review of River, p. 42.
Library Journal, May 15, 1984, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 993; May 1, 1989, Beth Clewis, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 96; April 1, 1997, Tim Markus, review of River, p. 117; June 15, 2002, Michael Rogers, review of The Complete Walker IV, p. 101.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 22, 1990, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 14.
New Scientist, December 6, 1997, review of River, p. 49.
New West, April, 1981, James Hart, review of The Man from the Cave, p. 132.
New York Times Book Review, June 7, 1981, Walter Goodman, review of The Man from the Cave, p. 15; June 3, 1984, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 13.
Petersen's Photographic, December, 1990, review of Quiet Light, p. 43.
PSA Journal, November, 1990, L. Sukalo, review of Quiet Light, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly, February 6, 1981, review of The Man from the Cave, p. 365; April 7, 1989, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 117; May 4, 1997, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 66; March 17, 1997, review of River, p. 69.
Village Voice, August 7, 1984, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 48.
Washington Post Book World, April 10, 1981, Carol Van Strom, review of The Man from the Cave; June 3, 1984, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 12; July 2, 1989, review of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, p. 13; April 13, 1997, review of River, p. 10.
Western American Literature, spring, 1999, review of River, p. 68.
Whole Earth Review, January, 1985, J. Baldwin, review of The Complete Walker III, p. 67.
Beatrice.com,http://www.beatrice.com/ (September 7, 2002), Ron Hogan, Beatrice Interview: Colin Fletcher.*