Tim Butcher (born 15 November 1967) is an English author, broadcaster and journalist. He is the author of Blood River (2007), Chasing the Devil (2010) and The Trigger (2014), travel books blending contemporary adventure with history.

Tim Butcher

Butcher and his Jack Russell "Betty", Israel, 2007
Butcher and his Jack Russell "Betty", Israel, 2007
Born (1967-11-15) 15 November 1967 (age 54)
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
GenreTravel writing, Journalism



As a journalist between 1990 and 2009 Butcher worked for The Daily Telegraph newspaper, holding a series of positions including leader writer, war correspondent, Africa Bureau Chief, and Middle East Correspondent. He remains a regular contributor to the BBC radio programme From Our Own Correspondent and has written for numerous British, US and international publications.


As an author he published in 2007 his first book Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart,[1] an account of his 2004 journey through Democratic Republic of the Congo ("DR Congo") overland from Lake Tanganyika and down the Congo River, following the route of Henry Morton Stanley's 1874–77 trans-Africa expedition. The book, published by Chatto & Windus, reached Number 1 in the Sunday Times best-seller list[2] and also appeared on the New York Times best-seller list.[3]

Translated into six languages, Blood River was the only non-fiction title in the Richard & Judy Book Club 2008 and was shortlisted that year for a number of British writing awards including the Samuel Johnson Prize,[4] the Dolman Best Travel Book Award, and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Best Book award. The book's Polish version, Rzeka Krwi (translated by Jakub Czernik and published in 2009 by Carta Blanca), was longlisted for the 2010 Ryszard Kapuściński Prize.[5]

In 2009, Butcher wrote a chapter for Because I am a Girl (January 2010),[6] a charitable compilation of stories focusing on the plight of young women and girls in the developing world. Published by Vintage, the book was the brainchild of Plan International, a leading children's rights aid group.

Butcher's second major work, Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa’s Fighting Spirit (2010),[7] describes a 350-mile trek through Sierra Leone and Liberia following a trail blazed by Graham Greene and recounted in Greene's Journey Without Maps (1936). It was longlisted for the Orwell Prize for political writing.[8]

In 2010, he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Northampton in the United Kingdom, for service as a journalist and author.

He also contributed a chapter to Ox Travels: Meetings with Remarkable Travel Writers (Ox Tales) (released in May 2011),[9] another compilation, this time on behalf of Oxfam, the international confederation working against poverty and injustice.

In 2012, Blood River became a text used in AS Level English Language and Literature Combined, alongside Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.[10]

In 2013, he was awarded the Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, in recognition of achievements as an explorer and educator.[11]

His most recent book, The Trigger – Hunting the Assassin who Brought the World to War was published in May 2014 by Chatto & Windus.[12] It tells the story of Gavrilo Princip, the teenage assassin who triggered the First World War by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, on 28 June 1914.


  1. ^ Butcher, Tim (2007). Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart. Chatto & Windus.
  2. ^ Sunday Times UK non-fiction bestseller lists 8/3/2008 and 15/3/2008
  3. ^ New York Times e non-fiction bestseller list 5/7/2015
  4. ^ Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist 2008
  5. ^ [1] Ryszard Kapuscinski Award longlist 2009
  6. ^ Tim Butcher & Xiaolu Guo & oanne Harris & Kathy Lette & Henning Mankell & Deborah Moggach & Marie Phillips & Irvine Welsh & Plan International (2010). Because I am a Girl. Vintage.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Butcher, Tim (2010). Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa’s Fighting Spirit. Chatto & Windus.
  8. ^ [2] Orwell Prize longlist 2011
  9. ^ Mark Ellingham, Peter Florence & Barnaby Rogerson (Editors) & Michael Palin (Introduction) & Tim Butcher (Contributor) (2011). Ox Travels: Meetings with Remarkable Travel Writers (Ox Tales). Profile Books. ISBN 9781846684968.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ "English Language and Literature B Subject content Unit 2 – Themes in Language and Literature". AQA. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  11. ^ Mungo Park 2013 medal award announcement
  12. ^ Butcher, Tim (2014). The Trigger – Hunting the Assassin who Brought the World to War. Chatto & Windus.


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