Tim Severin and Stanley Johnson


Sir, – In the excellent obituary of Tim Severin, brief mention is made of his 1961 motorbike trip retracing Marco Polo’s route from Venice into Asia (“Tim Severin: Writer and explorer best known for the Brendan Voyage”, January 2nd). Tim’s companion on that trip was none other than Stanley Johnson, the Francophile father of the current British prime minister.

The two adventurous young men, aged only 20, set out on two BSA 500cc Shooting Star bikes – gifted by BSA – and managed to complete a slightly truncated version of Marco’s route in time to resume their studies in Oxford in October.

Tim euphemistically described his companion’s riding as “eccentric”, a not inappropriate description in the context of the Johnson family. – Yours, etc,



Co Offaly.