Sir Ranulph Fiennes talks about Books East appearance, why books still matter and his connection to Framlingham

Anton Bowring and Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the Books East Festival.

Anton Bowring and Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the Books East Festival. - Credit: Archant

An eager audience was treated to tales of daring expeditions and herculean human feats last night when one of the world’s most famous explorers visited Ipswich.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the BooksEast Festival. Photo: Sarah Lucy Br

Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the BooksEast Festival. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was in conversation with friend and colleague Anton Bowring at the Corn Exchange as part of the Books East literary festival.

It is not the first time he has come to Suffolk – he has spent time visiting Suffolk-based Mr Bowring – but there is also a family connection to the county.

“My grandad’s family, the Newsons, were the millers of Framlingham and there’s a school there which I have been to lecture to,” he said. That’s how I first came to Suffolk, but I got brought up in South Africa for 12 years so coming to England generally for me wasn’t going back to somewhere remembered.

“It was really through meeting Anton 40 years ago I started coming to Suffolk.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Anton Bowring at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the Books East Festival.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Anton Bowring at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich for the Books East Festival. - Credit: Archant

The adventurer has written numerous books about his adventures as well as fictional work.

He feels there is still a place for physical books in modern Britain.

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“We as people who make a living through writing a hardback every other year hope this nasty advance of progress doesn’t have a bad effect on the sale of hard backs,” he said.

“On leaving the army and not having a job, thinking about doing expeditions as a civilian, we would need sponsorship but that is for the expedition not for us.

“Therefore I looked at any other human being who did expeditions and managed to make a living out of them. What they were doing was making it out of a book about the expedition.

Mr Bowring, who now runs a removal firm in Leiston, said recalling their shared experiences in books and at talks was “very vivid and emotional”.

“When you do something like this it’s such a profound experience that inevitably it does carry on throughout your life. It doesn’t go away.”

Of their expeditions he added: “Ran does the nasty bits, I have the rather more cushy things to do. When he puts on his crampons and his polar gear I’m putting on my brogues and my blazer.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was born in 1944, four months after the death of his father in the Second World War.

He is styled ‘sir’ because of being a baronet, a hereditary title passed down from his father. His full title is Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, OBE.

He was a serving British Army officer, at one time it’s youngest captain, and was educated at Eton.

Some of his expeditions include travelling around the earth on its polar axis (the Transglobe expedition), journeying up the White Nile on a hovercraft and discovering what may have been an outpost of a lost city in Oman.

When attempting a solo and unsupported walk to the North Pole in 2000 he sustained frostbite which required the tips of all fingers on his left hand to be amputated. However before the procedure he grew annoyed with the pain caused by the fingers and cut them off himself with a fretsaw.

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