I understand the concept of the Rough Guides’ travel series. It is intended for those whose desire to travel is greater than their disposable income. Rough then is used as an antonym for Luxury. Fine.
But why would anyone want their reference book rough? Rough as opposed to what? Fact-checked?
I haven’t ever used a Rough Guides travel book, and I never will. If the same fact-checking standards apply to the travel and reference series, I wouldn’t trust one to help me find my way out of a paper bag.
I’ve been blogging about Paul Simpson’s The Rough Guide to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials this week. Simpson is identified as the author and he owns the copyright (in my American edition). But he had help, so to speak. There’s a masthead on the copyright page. Let’s look at this:
- Text Editor: Paul Simpson
- Proofreading: Lesley Turner, Martin Rosser, Ian Cranna
- Writing: Paul Simpson, Tom Bullough
First of all, I know from painful experience that a writer should not be his or her own editor. We’ll leave that for now and look at the other list:
- Series Editor: Mark Ellingham [not any longer: Andrew Lockett is the Man]
- Editors: Peter Buckley, Duncan Clark, Tracy Hopkins, Sean Mahoney, Matt Milton, Joe Staines, Ruth Tidball
- Director: Andrew Lockett
Now I know we all make mistakes. But couldn’t one of these 13 people have checked the name of the author of their book’s subject? Is that expecting too much?
From page 14 of The Rough Guide:
On his website (www.philippullman.com [sic]), Philip Nicholas Outram (as he was born–he became Pullman later in honour of his stepfather) sums up his early life with the dry observation that “I was born in Norwich…”
In pages 14 to 17, Pullman’s father is identified four times as Alfred Outram.
Boy, do we need to have a little talk. Philip Pullman is Philip Pullman. He was never Philip Outram.His father’s name was Alfred Outram Pullman. The story about Philip abandoning his father’s name to honor his step-father is balderdash, poppycock, or whatever you want to call it. It just plain isn’t true.