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Travel writer Paul Theroux wins British royal medal for ... geography?

Paul Theroux's writing about his travels that span the globe score him a royal medal for geography

American travel writer Paul Theroux has enthralled readers with tales of train travels around the world for more than four decades. Now Britain's Royal Geographical Society will award him one of its top medals for "the encouragement of geographical discovery through travel writing."

Yes, a geography award -- specifically one called the Royal Medal-Patron's Medal -- for his telling of epic journeys like "The Great Railway Bazaar," the 1975 journey that took him from London to Southeast Asia and back on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Theroux, 74, retraced that journey in 2006 and produced "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star."

Other travelogues like "The Patagonia Express" (from Boston to Argentina by train) and his kayaking adventure in the South Pacific, "The Happy Isles of Oceania," certainly brought geography -- and the countries and people he so deftly profiled -- to life.

His latest undertaking: "Deep South," is a look at life in rural America, which comes out in September.

The writer follows Patron's Medal winners Michael Palin (2013, for his travel books and shows) and environmental documentary filmmaker Alastair Fothergill (2012).

The awards, which have been handed out since 1831, will be presented June 1 in London.

Michael Batty, a professor at University College London has been selected the Royal Medal-Founder's Medal winner for his geographical models of cities and concepts of how they operate. And photographer Sebastiao Salgado will receive an award named for nature photographer Cherry Kearton.

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