Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels
Education: Sloane School, Chelsea and Imperial College
Date of Birth: 1 May 1931
Place of Birth: Harburg, Germany
Current Home: Northern California
When my mother was due to give birth to me, her first and only child, she insisted on going home to her mother in Germany, and so I was born there and brought home to London at the age of three months. Thus I acquired the habit of travel at an early age.
While I was at school two important things happened. In 1948, at the age of 17, I made my first solitary journey, by bicycle, from London through a ravaged France to the Mediterranean. It was a great success. Later I caught polio, which knocked me out for six weeks but left no visible permanent after-effects. Our doctor, who had always considered me a weakling, began to believe that I might survive after all.
I got a good scholarship to Imperial College, but after two years I decided this was not how I wanted to spend my life (aside from anything else I wasn’t meeting any girls) so I dropped out. I should have gone straight into the army for two years – it was compulsory at that time – but I thought it would be better, first, to find out who I was, so I escaped to Paris.
In those days I played jazz clarinet, and a famous jazz musician gave me a note to a friend of his in Paris who ran a newspaper office. The friend gave me a job as a messenger boy, and that was how I became a journalist.
I came back after two years, went into the RAF, and eventually got permission to start a magazine for recruits. It caught the eye of an important editor in Fleet Street, so when I was released by Her Majesty, I got a job on the Daily Express. I was fired three times, but managed to hang on. Five years later I became features editor of another national daily (the Daily Sketch) but became disenchanted with the newspaper business, bought a 13th-century ruin in the south of France, sold everything, and went to live in it and restore it. I did stone-masonry and writing for several years before I decided it was time I saw the rest of the world. I thought I would do it on a motorcycle. The Sunday Times agreed to support me. It took four years. The journey was incredible and the book was a great success.
I married, moved to Northern California, wrote more books and did organic vegetable farming. Then I discovered that Jupiter’s Travels was in demand in the USA as well, so I published it myself and this brought me into contact with the motorcycling community for the first time. My publishing efforts were quite successful, and eventually I hit on the idea of doing the journey again. The rest is even more history.
Listen to free samples of Jupiter’s Travels, plus our exclusive interview with Ted Simon!
Jupiter’s Travels – Africa (excerpt)
Jupiter’s Travels – America (excerpt 1)
Jupiter’s Travels – America (excerpt 2)
Ted Simon – Interview with Genevieve Helsby
Q & A
What was your favourite childhood book?
Which book has made you laugh?
I first remember cracking my ribs over James Thurber’s Let Your Mind Alone
Which book has made you cry?
Too long ago to remember
Which book would you never have on your bookshelf?
Ancillary Observations on the Refurbishment of Defective Drains in Madya Pradesh
Which book are you reading at the moment?
Which book would you give to a friend as a present?
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Which other writers do you admire?
Far too many to mention
Which classic have you always meant to read and never got round to?
Well, the Bible, for one
What are your top five books of all time, in order or otherwise?
Some books that have meant the most to me, though not necessarily the best, are Catch 22, All the King’s Men, The Gutenberg Galaxy, The Sun Also Rises, and Ford Madox Ford’s WWI trilogy, Parade’s End.
What is the worst book you have ever read?
Can’t remember its title.
Is there a particular book or author that inspired you to be a writer?
What is your favourite time of day to write?
Midday, after exhausting all other possibilities.
And favourite place?
Facing the wall
Longhand or word processor?
Which fictional character would you most like to have met?
Which book have you found yourself unable to finish?
Zen and the Art of…
What is your favourite word?
Other than writing, what other jobs or professions have you undertaken or considered?
Publishing, engineering, farming, stonemasonry
What was the first piece you ever had in print?
A melodramatic tale in my college magazine
What are you working on at the moment?
The upstairs bedroom
Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon, read unabridged by Rupert Degas, with an introduction written and read by Ted Simon, is now available to buy as a download or on CD (14 CDs, 17 hours) from Naxos Direct and all good audiobook retailers.