Destination: Liberia

Meet the Traveler Who Saved Graham Greene’s Life

In the Telegraph, Tim Butcher tells the little-known story of Barbara Greene, a cousin of the well-traveled author—and, apparently, his savior on a 1935 trip through Sierra Leone and Liberia. Here’s Butcher:

At the off, the adventure was the property of Graham Greene. He made all the arrangements and took all the decisions, hiring a team of 24 bearers, three servants and a cook. A child of the late Edwardian era, Barbara Greene was happy to go along with this.

But after crossing into Liberia and beginning the trek, a reversal took place. Graham fell ill, dangerously ill, while Barbara got stronger and stronger. They had various adventures and almost lost each other in the thick forest, but the key moment came about three weeks into the walk when his illness worsened dramatically and he lost consciousness.

“Graham would die,’’ she later wrote. “I never doubted it for a minute. He looked like a dead man already ... I was incapable of feeling anything. I worked out quietly how I would have my cousin buried, how I would go down to the coast, to whom I would send telegrams.’‘

Calmly Barbara Greene took over responsibility for the trip, settling on the route, arranging food and motivating the bearers. Having completed the same trek last year for my book, staying in the same villages and enduring the same climate, I am in awe of her achievement. And I am in no doubt that she saved her cousin’s life.

(Via The Book Bench)

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