Gill Shaddick (nee Stevenson) left Britain aged twenty-one to take up a job in Hong Kong. She travelled from England on the Trans-Siberian Railway and then by Russian boat down the China coast to Hong Kong.
Those experiences in the 1960s awakened a wanderlust that has remained insistent throughout her life and kept her travelling. She met her husband in a township in Zambia. Together they embarked on a peripatetic journey living in a dozen countries. They counted cotton bollworms in Egypt, Sudan and Iran, tagged eels in New Zealand, owned a fishing business on Lake Kariba in central Africa and ran a rabbit farm in one of Scotland’s remotest corners. Their four daughters, each a constant source of joy, amusement and awe, were all born in different countries.
Gill has travelled to Afghanistan as a volunteer, worked on an organic farm in Nepal, visited Tibet, Borneo, Morocco and travelled extensively in Europe and south-east Asia, solo and with her daughters.
In 2018, Gill flew to Shanghai to visit the sights that she had heard about first-hand from “old China hands” who she had worked with in Hong Kong. From there she took a train from Beijing to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and on to Moscow to finish her journey in the city from where she had set out by train for Hong Kong exactly 50 years before.
She is a distant cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. His grandfather’s clock ticked out the hours as she grew up, which she credits as one reason why, from an early age, she was enchanted by travel and writing.
Gill settled in Sydney, where she now lives with her husband. She is currently working on a new manuscript about her life in Africa. The Hong Kong Letters is her first book.