Travis Elborough has been a freelance writer, author and cultural commentator for over two decades now. His books include The Bus We Loved, a history of the Routemaster bus; The Long-Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records; Wish You Were Here, a survey of the British beside the seaside and London Bridge in America: The Tall Story of a Transatlantic Crossing.
A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution was published by Jonathan Cape in June 2016 and described as ‘a fascinating, informative, revelatory book’ by William Boyd in The Guardian.
The Atlas of Improbable Places, a collaboration with the cartographer Alan Horsfield and specially commissioned by the publisher Aurum, appeared in September 2016 and was saluted by Monocle magazine for ‘making the world feel bigger.’
In September 2017, the anthologies Being a Writer, co-compiled with the novelist Helen Gordon, and Our History of the 20th Century: As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters, were published by Aurum and Michael O’Mara Books, respectively.
The latter has been hailed by David Kynaston as ‘a wonderfully curated collection of intimate diary voices: rich in their variousness, compelling in their impact, and cumulatively giving us a fresh and thought-provoking version of twentieth-century Britain’.
His most recent anthologies have been Letters to Change the World: From Pankhurst to Orwell issued by Ebury Press in September 2018 (and in a revised paperback edition in July 2021) and Bus Fare: Collected Writing on London’s Most Loved Means of Transport, co-edited with Joe Kerr, issued by AA Publishing in October 2018.
Atlas of Vanishing Places was published by White Lion in September 2019 and won Illustrated Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards in 2020.
Through the Looking Glasses: The Spectacular Life of Spectacles was published in July 2021 by Little Brown to immediate acclaim, saluted as ‘fascinating’ by The Observer, while New Statesman stated, ‘It will make you look at specs with fresh eyes.’
Atlas of Forgotten Places is forthcoming from White Lion.
Elborough is a regular contributor to the Observer and the Guardian but has written for the Times, Sunday Times, New Statesman, the Oldie, TATE etc., BBC History magazine and Kinfolk among others and frequently appears on BBC Radio 4 and Five Live.
He has survived interviewing the former (and notoriously bibulous) Dr Who Tom Baker in a pub, lectured on ‘retro’ culture and appeared at various literary and music festivals, including Latitude and Green Man, and on a panel discussing Hedonism at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London with a burlesque dancer and the late artist dandy Sebastian Horsley.
Throughout August 2011, he was the guest historian on Russell Kane’s Whistle-Stop Tour, a six-part series for BBC Radio 2.
His essay on ‘Gonzo’ journalism graces the current British edition of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He has contributed interviews with J.G. Ballard to the 2006 editions of ‘The Drowned World’, and ‘Empire of the Sun’. His liner notes can be found on the rear sleeve of 2012’s ‘Words and Music by Saint Etienne‘.
With Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne, he also co-wrote the script for How We Used to Live, a BFI archive film directed by Paul Kelly, and premiered at the 2013 London Film Festival.
In November 2013, Elborough was writer in residence at the Vision Apartment complex in Berlin.
Along with the novelists Syd Moore and Cathi Unsworth, he co-curated Dragnet, a day of noir-inspired events featuring Iain Sinclair, as part of Metal’s Village Green Festival in Chalkwell Park, Southend on 12 July 2014.
Travis Elborough was the Chisenhale Gallery Victoria Park Residency artist for 2014-15.
He was one of the judges for the 2017 Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize.
Travis Elborough has also lectured on creative and critical writing at the Arvon Foundation at The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank and the Royal College of Art in London.
Elborough is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster, teaching M.A. creative writing students in the Facility of Social Science and Humanities.
He is available for freelance writing and other commissions and public events.
His clients have included the University of the Third Age, the staff and curators at the London Transport Museum, the Museum of London and the National Army Museum, and the publishers HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan, BBC4, BBC Online and the Unity agency.
He is also proud to be a patron of Southwark Park.