encofexp.jpg (6015 bytes)Ray photo 2012.jpg (689243 bytes) Ray Howgego (Raymond John Howgego, born London, 1946) is an independent traveller, writer and researcher whose interests have taken him to many parts of the world, often following in the explorers' footsteps and seeking out local sources of information. He has travelled in nearly every country between the UK and China, and in the Middle East, the Central Asian republics, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, East and West Africa, South America (from Amazonia to Cape Horn), Iceland and various oceanic islands. He is author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration  (Hordern House, Sydney, 2003-2013), now a standard reference source in libraries and collections throughout the world. The five volumes, which together include over 5157 articles in 4232 pages (some 4.2 million words), have been cited as comprising the longest regularly published book in the English language to have been written by a single author unaided. The fifth and final volume, dealing specifically with apocryphal, invented, imaginary and plagiarized narratives of travel, was published by Hordern House in 2013. All volumes are still available from www.explorersencyclopedia.com


bofexp.jpg (12118 bytes)benhambook.jpg (6217 bytes)Ray's The Book of Exploration, a more modestly priced, lavishly illustrated popular history of exploration, was published simultaneously in August 2009 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson (Orion Books) in the UK and Bloomsbury (Walker Publishing) in the USA, and is available from online booksellers and local bookstores throughout the world. A German translation was issued by Primus Verlag in September 2010. In addition, Ray has written the only book-length biography of the prolific lady traveller Gertrude Benham. Entitled A very quiet and harmless traveller: Gertrude Emily Benham 1867-1938, it was published by the Plymouth Museum in July 2009 and is available from the museum's bookshop. Ray's latest book, which further explores the subject of imaginary geography, is an historical study of Atlantic vigias, i.e. islands, rocks, shoals and other dangers to ships that appeared on official charts in the mid-Atlantic but had no real existence. Titled The Historical Encyclopedia of Atlantic Nautical Hazards, the book was published by IB Tauris in 2015.


atlasofexp.jpg (4423 bytes)vigiabk.jpg (8021 bytes)Ray was Consultant Editor for the Illustrated Atlas of Exploration, published by Weldon Owen in 2011 and syndicated elsewhere. He has also contributed a number of articles on 'missing explorers' to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; he has written book reviews for the International Journal of Maritime History; and he has been a consultant to the National Geographic magazine, and to several TV documentaries, including the VPRO film series O'Hanlon's Heroes (2012) and the series Raiders of the Lost Past screened by the Yesterday channel (UK) in 2013. He contributed an article on shipwreck to the program for the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of The Tempest. Ray is fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an officer of the Hakluyt Society. He writes and maintains the Hakluyt Society's website and edits the the online Journal of the Hakluyt Society. He has worked as series editor for the society's publication of The Journal of William Broughton in the North Pacific, and in 2010 he delivered the Hakluyt Society Annual Lecture at the RGS on the subject of imaginary voyages, printed copies of which are available from the Society. More recently, Ray's interests have turned towards local history, working in association with other local historians, the Bourne Society, and the East Surrey Museum where he can often be found stewarding on a Saturday afternoon. In the field of local history Ray has recently completed an illustrated History of Harestone Valley, Caterham which was published by the Bourne Society in November 2015 and is available for purchase (see below).

Harestone Valley in Old Maps and Photographs. Ray has recently put together an exhibition of old maps and photographs for the East Surrey Museum illustrating the history of Harestone Valley over the past two centuries. The display, which includes around 80 photographs dating from the 1870s to the 1920s, and maps from the 1730s to 1930s, opened at the East Surrey Museum, 1 Stafford Road, Caterham, Surrey, on 2 September 2015, and will remain there until further notice. The museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am until 5 pm. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Ray Howgego was born in East Ham, London, and raised in East Ham and Wanstead, Essex. He was educated at East Ham Grammar School for Boys and at Nottingham University, where he took an honours degree in physics (1968) and qualified as a teacher (1969). In his youth he travelled widely in Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain, later extending his travels to more remote parts of the earth. He taught for many years at Caterham School, Surrey, and served for twelve years as a captain in the Territorial Army (Queens Regiment), specialising in navigation, radio communication and personal survival. With a particular interest in communications, he was the inventor of a number of original radio and television receiver and transmitter circuits, details of which were published in Practical Wireless, Short Wave Magazine, Television, and Radio Communication. He also designed an early computer aided drawing program (known as Veqtron) for electronic engineers, and he was one of the earliest users of the internet in the UK. He retired from teaching in 1997 to pursue a full-time career as a traveller and writer. Ray has two children and one grandson and currently lives with his wife Pat in Harestone Valley, Caterham, Surrey. His numerous hobbies include collecting recordings of British classical music, amateur radio (as G4DTC), gardening, the renovation of antique electronic equipment, and the repair and maintenance of amplifiers and other stage equipment. Email address: ray@howgego.co.uk

harestonebook.jpg (175254 bytes)The History of Harestone Valley, Caterham, Surrey.

This A5-size book has 70 pages illustrated with 35 old photographs and eight map reproductions. The area covered includes Harestone Valley Road, Loxford Road, Colburn Avenue, Harestone Hill, Harestone Lane, Weald Way and Woodland Way. The text is based on a painstaking search of the archives and includes much information not easily found elsewhere. In addition, the author has taken care not to repeat information found in other local history publications.

The book, which costs a mere 5, is most easily obtained by collection from the author at 39 Harestone Valley Road, or from the East Surrey Museum on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Alternatively it may be ordered by post for 6.50 (see the Bourne Society Facebook page for details).

Publisher: The Bourne Society
Date: November 2015
ISBN: 978-0-900992-76-6

Cover picture: A rare colour photograph of Harestone Valley in 1908 as seen from the balcony of the United Reformed Church tower.

The rest of this website is nothing more than a repository of occasional articles, mostly biographical, placed there for the benefit of all who would like to read them:

John Thomas Baines
Gertrude Benham
Richard Francis Burton
John Hanning Speke & James Augustus Grant
Edmund Smyth
Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges. A definitive biography
Countess Malmignati