Always A Little Further with Alastair Borthwick

August 09, 2019

Alastair was born in Troon in 1913, which is located on Scotlands west coast of Ayrshire. He led an eventful life traveling the outdoors, taking up work as a writer and broadcaster, until he passed away in 2003 at the age of 90 years old. Alastair Borthwick is perhaps best known for his work as a writer, having published two critically acclaimed books that are still in print to this day. Always A Little Further is the first book Alastair published through Faber at the expressed request of T.S. Eliot. This piece was Alastair’s collection of writings about the outdoors in Scotland, from hiking to camping, and all the best scenes that could be found around the Scottish pastures.

When Alastair was still young, he relocated from Troon and moved into Glasgow, where he nearly finished high school until he decided to give up on his academics at just 16 years old. He made the choice to focus on writing work for the Glasgow Herald over his academics, which is exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Although his first job for the Herald was simple, copying down notes and editing some news pages, it provided him with hands-on experience as a writer and journalist.

There was a particular page in the Glasgow Herald that took Alastair’s interest known as Open Air. Essentially a page talking about open spaces in Scotland, Open Air inspired Alastair to do his own adventuring of the outdoors, which became a lifelong passion and hobby for Alastair. From this point on, Alastair worked on his own nature writing, traveling around the Scottish countryside, writing small stories of his adventures, which were later combined and published as Always A Little Further in 1939.

Before having his first book published, Alastair was coming up in the world of journalism, and in 1935 he was offered a position at the Daily Mirror in London. This required moving away from home, but it was an opportunity that Alastair was looking forward to for years, that is until he realized how much different London was compared to the open space and nature that filled his former home of Scotland. Within Alastair’s first year at the Daily Mirror, he decided he wanted to return home to Glasgow, and rather than taking up his previous position, he started working as a radio correspondent for BBC.

When the Second World War broke out, Alastair Borthwick signed up as an intelligence officer, taking a spot as part of the Seaforth Highlanders. During the war, Alastair’s battalion traveled all across the countryside and into the nations of Belgium, Germany, Sicily, Italy, France, and North Africa. Traveling on behalf of war is not the best of circumstances, but it was a major adventure for Alastair and provided him with a plentiful story to tell afterward. By 1946, after the war had ended, Alastair published San Peur, a tale of the Seaforth Highlanders during the Second World War. Not only did Sans Peur become a best seller in 1946, but it was also later republished in the 90s as Battalion, becoming a best seller all over again.