Ray Howgego (Raymond John Howgego BSc FRGS, born London, 1946) is an independent traveller and writer who, over the past twenty years, has visited many remote parts of the world, following in the explorers' footsteps and seeking out local sources of information. He has travelled in nearly every country between the UK and China, and in the Middle East, the Central Asian republics, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, East and West Africa, South America (from Amazonia to Cape Horn), Iceland and various oceanic islands. He is author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration  (Hordern House, Sydney, 2003-2013), now a standard reference source in libraries and collections throughout the world. The five volumes, which together include over 5157 articles in 4232 pages (some 4.2 million words), have been cited as comprising the longest regularly published book in the English language to have been written by a single author unaided. The recently completed a fifth volume, dealing specifically with apocryphal, invented, imaginary and plagiarized narratives of travel, was published by Hordern House in 2013. All volumes are still available, and are most inexpensively obtained direct from the publisher. For further details see www.explorersencyclopedia.com

Ray's The Book of Exploration, a more modestly priced, lavishly illustrated popular history of exploration, was published simultaneously in August 2009 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson (Orion Books) in the UK and Bloomsbury (Walker Publishing) in the USA, and is available from online booksellers and local bookstores throughout the world. A German translation was issued by Primus Verlag in September 2010. In addition, Ray has written the only book-length biography of the prolific lady traveller Gertrude Benham. Titled A very quiet and harmless traveller: Gertrude Emily Benham 1867-1938, it was published by the Plymouth Museum in July 2009 and is available from the museum's bookshop.

Ray was Consultant Editor for the Illustrated Atlas of Exploration, published by Weldon Owen in 2011 and syndicated elsewhere. He has also contributed a number of articles on 'missing explorers' to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; he writes book reviews for the International Journal of Maritime History; and he has been a consultant to the National Geographic magazine, and to several TV documentaries, including the VPRO film series O'Hanlon's Heroes (2012) and the series Raiders of the Lost Past screened by the Yesterday channel (UK) in 2013.

Ray is fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an honorary member of the Travellers Club, a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries, and an officer of the Hakluyt Society. He writes and maintains the Hakluyt Society's website and edits the the online Journal of the Hakluyt Society. He has worked as series editor for the society's publication of The Journal of William Broughton in the North Pacific, and in 2010 he delivered the Hakluyt Society Annual Lecture at the RGS on the subject of imaginary voyages, printed copies of which are available from the Society.

Ray Howgego was born in East Ham, London, and raised in East Ham and Wanstead, Essex. He was educated at East Ham Grammar School for Boys and at Nottingham University, where he took an honours degree in physics (1968) and qualified as a teacher (1969). In his youth he travelled widely in Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain, later extending his travels to more remote parts of the earth. He taught for many years at Caterham School, Surrey, and served for twelve years as a captain in the Territorial Army (Queens Regiment), specialising in navigation, radio communication and personal survival. He retired from teaching in 1997 to pursue a full-time career as a traveller and writer. He has two children and one grandchild and currently lives with his wife Pat in Harestone Valley, Caterham, Surrey. His numerous hobbies include collecting recordings of British classical music, amateur radio (as G4DTC), gardening, and the renovation of antique electronic equipment. Email address: ray@howgego.co.uk

Occasional articles on selected explorers:

John Thomas Baines

Gertrude Benham

Richard Francis Burton

John Hanning Speke & James Augustus Grant

Edmund Smyth

Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges. A definitive biography

Countess Malmignati