In the beginning
It all began in 1974 on an Amazon river barge. During an 18-month trip through South America, two adventurous young backpackers – Hilary Bradt and her then husband, George – decided to write about the hiking trails they had discovered through the Andes.
Backpacking Along Ancient Ways Peru & Bolivia included the very first descriptions of the Inca Trail. It was the start of a colourful journey to becoming one of the best-loved travel publishers in the world; you can read about this in more detail on the Our Story page.
Getting there first
Hilary quickly gained a reputation for being a true travel pioneer, and in the 1980s she started to publish guides by other writers to places overlooked by other travel publishers. The Bradt Guides list became a roll call of guidebook ‘firsts’.
We published the first guide to Madagascar, followed by Mauritius, Czechoslovakia and Vietnam. The 1990s saw the beginning of our extensive coverage of Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and Eritrea.
Later, post-conflict guides became a feature: Rwanda, Mozambique, Angola and Sierra Leone, as well as the first standalone guides to the Baltic States following the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the first post-war guides to Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania.
Comprehensive – and with a conscience
Today, we are the world’s largest independently-owned guidebook publisher, with over 200 titles in print. However, our ethos is unchanged. Hilary is still involved, and we still get there first: over two-thirds of Bradt guides still have no direct competition from other publishers – see more on the Somewhere only we know page.
But we don’t just get there first. Our guides are known for being more comprehensive than any other series. We avoid templates and tick-lists. Each guide is a one-of-a-kind expression of an expert author’s interests, knowledge and enthusiasm for telling it like it really is.
And a commitment to wildlife, conservation and respect for local communities has always been at the heart of our books. Bradt Guides was championing sustainable travel before any other guidebook publisher. We have a series dedicated to Slow Travel in the UK, award-winning books that explore the country with a passion and depth you’ll find nowhere else.
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We can only do what we do because of the support of our readers – people who value less-obvious experiences, less-visited places and a more thoughtful approach to travel. Those who, like us, take travel seriously.
Our attention to quality has brought many awards including:
- Gold Award for ‘Top Guidebook Series’ in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards (2009, 2011, 2016, 2018, 2019)
- Best Guidebook at the British Guild of Travel Writers Awards (Slow Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, 2013; Slow Travel North Devon & Exmoor, 2015; The Basque Country and Navarre, 2016; Wild Times, 2017; and 52 European Wildlife Weekends, 2018)
- Best Narrative Travel Book at the British Guild of Travel Writers Awards (Wild about Britain, 2018)
- Travel Guidebook of the Year at the Travel Media Awards (A Summer of British Wildlife, 2016)
- Independent Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards 2017 (shortlist)
Nowadays, the in-house Bradt team is 16 strong, working out of an office (Covid allowing!) above Costa Coffee in Chesham High Street. Working with writers, photographers, printers, booksellers and distributors across the globe, we publish over 40 new titles a year.
Hilary Bradt MBE – Co-Founder, Director
Hilary worked as an occupational therapist in Edinburgh, London, Boston and San Francisco, before becoming unemployable when the gaps between jobs were noticed. She married George Bradt in 1972 and spent the next four years in South America and Africa, accidentally founding Bradt Travel Guides en route.
After splitting with George in 1980, she built up the publishing business while leading treks and tours to South America, Kenya and Madagascar, writing a few books and publishing a lot more. She received the BGTW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, and was inducted into the LATA Hall of Fame in 2019. She was awarded an MBE in 2008.
Favourite destination: Madagascar
Little-known fact: As a school girl in the 1950s Hilary was considered too dim to go to university so learned German, not Latin. First trip abroad was to Germany to stay with pen-friend. Hated it; hated her.
Adrian Phillips – Managing Director
Adrian has a staggeringly poor sense of direction, which means he’s well-acquainted with travelling off the beaten track. It was therefore entirely appropriate that he should join Bradt in 2001, after completing a PhD in English Literature.
In addition to working on the publishing side of the fence, Adrian is a leading writer and broadcaster. He writes for The Telegraph, The Independent, Wanderlust and National Geographic Traveller among others and has authored guides to Budapest and Hungary. The latter was voted BGTW Best Guidebook of the Year and Adrian has received several other awards, including the BGTW Travel Writer of the Year and the AITO Travel Writer of the Year (runner-up). He makes frequent broadcast appearances on the BBC, Sky and ITV.
Favourite destination: Hungary (as the husband of a Hungarian, he has to say that…)
Little-known fact: Adrian’s sense of direction is so poor that he followed the wrong procession from the cemetery following his grandmother’s funeral and ended up at a stranger’s wake in High Wycombe rather than his own family’s one in Chorleywood.
Peter Jay – Financial Director & Chairman
Peter qualified as a chartered accountant in 1979 and followed a successful career in public practice. He first became involved with Bradt when Hilary became a client over 30 years ago. An increasingly close association with the company led to appointment as non-executive director in 2003.
In 2008 after over 30 years in the accountancy profession a change direction was called for and he and took the opportunity to become executive finance director for Bradt where he derives great satisfaction from being able to support its wonderfully creative team.
Little-known fact: Early morning often before sunrise he is usually to be found walking the local paths in the Chiltern countryside delighting in and attempting to photograph the constantly changing natural world.
Anna Moores – Head of Editorial
Anna joined Bradt in 2005 as an editorial assistant, and in her own words, “is living proof that if you hang around somewhere long enough then they have to promote you”. A self-confessed grammar nerd, she can be brought to tears by the incorrect use of less/fewer and strives to avoid splitting infinitives wherever possible.
Grammar aside, Anna loves working on design and making Bradt beautiful and feels extremely lucky that she gets to work with some wonderful illustrators, designers and photographers daily. She is also the company’s social secretary and will bring Bradt people, past and present, together at any chance she gets for a pint or three…
Favourite destination: Anywhere with wildlife, but Rwanda was a favourite.
Little-known fact: Anna has been peed on by a golden monkey and considers this extremely lucky. It was golden after all.
Hugh Brune – Head of Sales & Marketing
Hugh first met Hilary in 2001 when he worked at Portfolio, the sales agency that sold Bradt Guides around the world. He returned to the company in 2016 to head up sales and marketing.
When not trying to persuade people to buy Bradt books, he writes sporadically for film, TV and the theatre. He also works for Eye/ Lightning, an independent publisher of fiction and general non-fiction.
Favourite place to revisit: Anywhere in the Peloponnese, having spent a very happy year there in his twenties.
Most want to visit: Japan.
Claire Strange – Commissioning Editor
When she joined Bradt in February 2013, Claire brought with her more than twenty years’ experience editing travel guides, both in the UK and Australia. At her desk she gains enormous satisfaction from correcting hyphens and en-dashes; away from the office she spends her time visiting out-of-the-way museums, trawling the internet for exciting camping innovations and planning her next holiday.
Favourite destination: Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Little-known fact: Favourite time of the day: 06.30 for a walk in the woods.
Sue Cooper – Publishing Manager
Sue joined Bradt in 2011 after eleven years working at Dorling Kindersley and Penguin and four years prior to that with a red-shoed Dutch paper-engineer, and was surprised to find Bradt HQ was in the village she grew up in.
Starting as Production Manager, she now also works on advertising sales and commissioning, which keeps her happily busy. In her spare time, she loves to explore new places with her daughter.
Favourite destination: Walberswick, Suffolk.
Little known fact: Sue spent a year studying at the Sorbonne pretending to understand Old French.
Susannah Lord – Managing Editor
Susannah has worked in publishing for more than two decades. Her career has focused predominantly on academic journals and non-fiction books, both in house and freelance. Swapping subjects such as Shakespeare, biological sciences, cultural studies and beer for the world of travel, Susannah embarked on her journey with Bradt in 2016.
An Italian speaker, she is inspired by all things Italian, especially art, architecture and food, and is passionate about good grammar and baking (not always in that order!).
Favourite destination: Italy, of course.
Wants to visit: Trieste and Palmanova, Italy; Sri Lanka.
Ian Spick – Senior Designer and Typesetter
Ian joined Bradt from Insight Guides in 2013 where he was Senior Designer. Before that he worked as Art Editor at Dorling Kindersley, contributing to the Medical Books team and Art and Antiques team. He has also worked at a design studio that produced in-flight magazines for airlines and books.
Favourite destination: Italy and more specifically Tuscany. Ian hopes to one day go touring on motorbike there but needs to convince his wife first.
Little-known fact: Ian once bought a pint for Lemmy from Motorhead, whilst at a gig at Dingwalls in Camden. The scary-looking chap couldn’t have been nicer!
Laura Pidgley – Project Manager / Digital Content Editor
Laura joined Bradt in 2013 straight after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in politics. Originally an editorial assistant, she has grown to love spotting the difference between straight and curly quotes and amending hanging clauses.
In the past few years, she has taken on a more active role in Bradt’s digital content and social channels, and is the testing quizmaster behind our daily Twitter teasers.
Favourite destination: Georgia. Laura dreams of khachapuri.
Little-known fact: She once appeared on the BBC gameshow, Pointless, and got a pointless answer in a round about flags.
Jennifer Wildman – Desk Editor
Jennifer started at Bradt as a Desk Editor in 2019 after a break from publishing in which she ran her busy family’s lives and taught swimming part-time. Sitting back at a desk took some getting used to, but the satisfaction that comes with putting a wonderful book together and the pleasure of working alongside talented, funny and kind people (and the biscuits) made the transition a breeze.
Favourite destination: Besides her visits to her hometown in California and to the Theatre of Dreams(!), anywhere in Germany where she can have a bratwurst and a beer.
Carys Homer – Project Editor
When she joined Bradt in 2017 after completing her English Literature degree, Carys was able to combine her two biggest passions – books and travel.
Her job has deepened her interest in off-the-beaten-track destinations, especially Central Asia; her favourite travel experience to date is attending the 2018 World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan; and her bucket list is insatiable (although her current top three need-to-visit destinations are Georgia, Uzbekistan and Benin).
Favourite destination: Kyrgyzstan.
Little-known fact: Carys once managed to fall down the gap between the train and the platform (that’s what the announcements are for!).
Deborah Gerrard – Senior Sales Executive
Deborah joined Bradt as part-time Advertising Executive in 2007, gradually increasing time in the office as the role expanded to encompass book sales to non-book-trade customers and the trade sales administration.
Favourite destination: Anywhere in the UK that she can explore with a Bradt ‘Slow Travel’ guide – Cornwall, North Devon & Exmoor, East Devon & The Jurassic Coast, Dorset, Suffolk and Norfolk so far. And closer to home, the beautiful Chiltern Hills.
Little-known fact: Deborah is a keen beekeeper, and produces around 70 jars of honey each year from the beehives kept at the end of her garden.
Iona Brokenshire – Finance Officer
Iona joined Bradt in 2017 after a decade in Cornwall, working in various bookkeeping roles. Prior to this, she enjoyed four years on the high seas where she would spend her days adventuring abroad and her nights in the casino (working as a croupier on cruise ships). She now spends her time attending theatrical performances and gigs, whilst plotting her next land-based excursion.
Favourite destination: San Juan, Puerto Rico – a colourful, cobbled , colonial Spanish old town with easy access to white-water rafting, rainforest horse trails, and midnight-kayak trips to the Bermuda triangle.
Little-known fact: P&O Cruises have named their newest cruise-ship after her (this may not actually be a fact).
Simon Willmore – Digital Manager
Simon has been in journalism and travel writing for a decade, working on everything from guide books for Rough Guides and Frommer’s, to blogging for National Geographic Traveller, to a technology column in a women’s magazine. More recently, he moved into online publishing including commissioning editor and editorial director roles, taking Bangkok-based trade publication Travel Daily from 20,000 to 100,000 readers, before joining Bradt in August 2019.
Favourite destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Simon lived there for three years so he’s biased, but, for the ‘melting pot’ experience, he thinks it’s the best city in the world.
Little-known fact: Simon is the youngest-ever Chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers – and the only one under 35.
Ellie Cotton – Marketing Assistant
Ellie joined Bradt in October 2019 after graduating from Durham University where she studied English Literature. Since starting at the company her bucket list has quadrupled in size and she adds a new destination to it nearly every day. Away from the office, she spends her time running, cycling and eating copious amounts of cake.
Favourite destination: Atlas Mountains, Morocco.
Little-known fact: She held the record at her secondary school for most muffins eaten (13) during a 15-minute lesson break.