The first four volumes of this highly acclaimed Encyclopedia dealt almost exclusively with voyages and travels of indisputable historical reality. In this intriguing final volume the author turns his attention to the curious but compelling alternative literature of exploration; to imaginary, apocryphal and utopian journeys in fabulous lands; and to the abundance of invented, plagiarized and spoof narratives, many of which were accepted in their time as wholly credible but were nothing more than flights of the imagination, blatant deceptions, or monologues of doubtful authenticity.
In 640 articles the author reviews over a thousand accounts of this nature from the earliest times to the present day, resolving their complex bibliographical histories and providing biographies of their often elusive authors, many of whom are correctly identified and documented for the first time. In addition he provides detailed histories of the many fantasy islands that once studded the charts but have since vanished in the mist.
In a work designed to transcend all others in breadth and scholarship, copious indexes provide immediate reference to 2800 primary editions in all languages, 1800 authors and fictional travellers, and more than 600 imaginary place names. A further 6000 citations to secondary sources of study accompany the articles.
Raymond Howgego is an independent researcher, scholar and traveller, who has been researching the history of exploration for much of his adult life. His travels have followed in the footsteps of the explorers to many remote parts of the world - the Middle East, Central Asia, India, West Africa, South America, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, China, Tibet, Australia, New Zealand and various oceanic islands. His numerous excursions in search of local sources of information, the latest of which took him to the desert cities of Turkmenistan, have afforded the opportunity to add to a lifetime's accumulation of travel literature. In addition to his work on the Encyclopedia, a project that has spanned some twenty years and has resulted in his acknowledgement as one of the world's leading experts on the history of exploration, he has published the popular Book of Exploration and a biography of the traveller Gertrude Benham. He was consultant editor of The Illustrated Atlas of Exploration and has contributed articles on 'missing explorers' to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He has functioned as consultant for several television documentaries, he writes book reviews for leading journals, and has lectured on the subject of invented and imaginary travellers' tales. Ray is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an honorary member of the Travellers Club, and an honorary officer of the Hakluyt Society, editing the Journal of the Hakluyt Society, writing and maintaining the society's website, and sometimes preparing its books for publication. Born in London in 1946, he lives with his wife Pat in Caterham, Surrey.