x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Staring down fear in the Sahara

Of the 29 books that Geoffrey Moorhouse wrote covering a diverse range of subjects, from the Tudors to the wonders of rugby league, The Fearful Void, an account of his odyssey across the Sahara from West to East, the Atlantic to the Nile, was perhaps the most memorable.

Of the 29 books that Geoffrey Moorhouse wrote covering a diverse range of subjects, from the Tudors to the wonders of rugby league, The Fearful Void, an account of his odyssey across the Sahara from West to East, the Atlantic to the Nile, was perhaps the most memorable. Prompted by his insatiable curiosity and a belief that to undertake such an adventure would constitute a test of character sufficient to insure against any future self-doubt, Moorhouse embarked on his foolhardy trip in October 1972 after the break-up of his first marriage. The accompanying camels were irascible companions, and before the journey's end, three of them had died. The first phase to Timbuktu took 10 exhausting weeks. Plagued by lice, his feet blistered beyond recognition, his guide incontinent, Moorhouse ran short of water and turned to local nomads for help. Such travails eventually led to his termination of the trip at Tamanrasset, 1,600 miles short of his intended destination, the Nile.

Moorhouse's journalistic career started at The Bolton Evening News, which he joined in his early 20s. After some years working in New Zealand, he returned to England to work for the Manchester Guardian, becoming its chief feature writer in 1963. In 1970, he resigned to become a full-time author. A raft of books followed, revealing his passions for cricket, northern England and Christianity. Geoffrey Moorhouse was born on November 29, 1931, and died on November 26. He married and divorced three times. He is survived by three children and his partner, Susan Bassnett.

* The National