25 September 2023, 19:30
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A Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely event.
Great-Uncle Harry is an utterly compelling account of an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life. A blend of biography, history, travelogue and personal memoir this is Michael Palin at his very finest.
Some years ago a stash of family records was handed down to Michael Palin, among which were photos of an enigmatic young man in army uniform, as well as photos of the same young man as a teenager looking uncomfortable at family gatherings.
This, Michael learnt, was his Great-Uncle Harry, born in 1884; died in 1916. He had previously had no idea that he had a Great-Uncle Harry, much less that his life was cut short at the age of 32 when he was killed in the Battle of the Somme. The discovery both shocked him and made him want to know much more about him. The quest that followed involved hundreds of hours of painstaking detective work.
Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes and films, from Monty Python and Ripping Yarns to The Missionary and The Death of Stalin. He has also made several much-acclaimed travel documentaries, his journeys taking him to the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and Brazil. His books include accounts of his journeys, novels (Hemingway’s Chair and The Truth) and several volumes of diaries. From 2009 to 2012 he was president of the Royal Geographical Society. He received a BAFTA fellowship in 2013, and a knighthood in the 2019 New Year Honours list.