Colin Thubron (Colin Gerald Dryden Thubron) Biography
(1939–?), (Colin Gerald Dryden Thubron), A Mirror to Damascus, The Hills of Adonis, Jerusalem
British travel writer and novelist, born in London, a descendant of John Dryden (1631–1700), educated at Eton College. He worked in publishing and travelled widely as a film-maker for the BBC from 1959 to 1965, when he became a freelance author. A Mirror to Damascus (1967), his first work as a travel writer, was followed by The Hills of Adonis (1968), an account of Lebanon, Jerusalem (1969), and Journey into Cyprus (1975). In addition to the lyrical eloquence of their descriptions, the books displayed his capacity for historically resonant evocations of the places visited. The perceptive humanity and depth of response to social and cultural conditions in Among Russians (1983), the result of a 10,000-mile journey by road through the USSR; Behind the Wall (1987), a record of his experiences in China; and The Lost Heart of Asia (1994), on Central Asia, have established him among the foremost travel writers of the post-war era. Emperor (1978), the first of Thubron's novels to be widely acclaimed, forms an imaginative reconstruction of events leading up to Constantine's triumphant entry into Rome in ad 312; other novels include A Cruel Madness (1984), a skilful treatment of insanity and delusion set in a psychiatric hospital, and Turning Back the Sun (1991), in which the chief protagonist is a European doctor enduring the tensions between duty, love, and the sense of exile in a town on the edge of an African wilderness.