Jonathan Raban Biography
(1942– ), The Technique of Modern Fiction, The Society of the Poem, Soft City
British travel writer, born at Fakenham in Norfolk, educated at Hull University. He lectured at University College, Aberystwyth, and the University of East Anglia from 1965 to 1969, when he became a full-time writer. His early publications include the critical essays of The Technique of Modern Fiction (1968) and The Society of the Poem (1971), his stimulating study of post-war poetry. Soft City (1974), an entertaining socio-cultural investigation of living in London, was followed by Arabia through the Looking Glass (1979), which established his reputation as an incisively original travel writer. Old Glory: An American Voyage (1981) is an often mordantly humorous treatment of a journey by boat down the Mississippi. Autobiographical retrospection combines with keenly observed social commentary in the account of a voyage around Britain in Coasting (1986). Hunting Mister Heartbreak (1990) describes his improvisatory itinerary through the USA in an attempt to recreate the experience of early emigrants. His other works include the novel Foreign Land (1985), in which an expatriate returns to England to encounter alienating change, and For Love and Money (1987), a record of his life as a writer which is interspersed with selections from his articles and essays. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of the Sea (1992).