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Scottish-born Stephen Graham (1884-1975) was best known for his travel narratives and his writings on Russian culture. His early travel writing appeared in British and American newspapers and magazines including the Times, Harper’s and the New Yorker. He spent much his early professional life traveling through Russia and became an authority on pre-revolutionary Russian culture. He often made his journeys on foot with minimal supplies and a dependence on the hospitality of others—a philosophy he called “tramping.” This travel approach lent itself to themes that resonated with Graham—a love of undisturbed nature, an aversion to materialism, compassion for the underprivileged, and an almost transcendent spirituality. Graham's best-known books on Russia include A Vagabond in the Caucasus (1911) and Changing Russia (1913). After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Graham’s “romanticized” vision of Russia led him to be forbidden by both Russia and Britain to travel there again. Graham made the first of many journeys to America aboard an immigrant steamer in 1913. He would eventually meet Christopher Morley in New York who introduced him to Vachel Lindsay. In 1921 the two tramped through Glacier National Park in Montana. The resulting book, Tramping with a poet in the Rockies (1922), combines Lindsay’s poetic recitations and Graham’s ability to tell an enthralling adventure story. He made several trips to New York in the 1920s and although Graham usually preferred the company of the lower classes, New York Nights (1927) was about time spent among the privileged—the theatre, nightclubs, speakeasies, and of course, the Village—and captures the free atmosphere New York at that time. Graham's later work encompasses descriptions city life, biography, fiction, and historical commentary. Of his numerous publications a few of his more well-known works include With Poor Immigrants to America (1914), A Private in the Guards (1919), and The Gentle Art of Tramping (1927). Although critical reception of Graham’s work is mixed, he is credited with having accurately documented significant historical moments, important political situations, customs, cultures, and ceremonies around the world.
A letter from Vachel Lindsay to Stephen Graham, 1920