Dervla Murphy: Ireland to India on a bicycle

In 1963 the legendary travel writer began her career with a transcontinental trek. In an interview with Talking Books, she talks about the journey.

Setting out on a bicycle she named Rocinante – after Don Quixote’s horse – and with only a small revolver for protection, Dervla Murphy began a journey that would shake up travel writing forever. It was 1963, she was 31 years old, and inspired by memories of corresponding with a Sikh pen pal as a teenager she set out to bike from Ireland to India. She would end up being attacked by wolves in the Balkans and seriously injured in Afghanistan. But when her journey was complete, she’d filled her diary with enough notes to inspire her first book – Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle.

The journey shaped her perspective on travel writing from then on. Murphy would never want to stay in hotels – certainly not “glamorous” ones – preferring instead to accept the hospitality of locals. On subsequent travels she’d journey to Tibet, Laos, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar and Peru.

For Talking Books, Murphy talks about the journey that started it all.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.