Carveth Wells

Carveth Wells, photo by Hal Phyfe, ca. 1930

Grant Carveth Wells (21 January 1887 — 16 February 1957) was a British adventurer, travel writer, and television personality in the mid-twentieth century.[1]

Wells was the author of eighteen travel-related books, including Six Years in the Malay Jungle, Road to Shalimar, and North of Singapore.[1]

Wells also produced films, radio and television shows relating to his travels.[1]


Wells was born in Surrey, England. He graduated from London University in 1909, with an engineering degree.[1]

In 1912, the British government sent Wells to its then-colony of Malaya, to survey the route for a railroad, and to explore the flora and fauna of the region.[1] Here he was the first person to report an encounter with the Mayah people of the Tanum Valley, Pahang.[2] However, Wells' health suffered badly in Malaya.[3] In 1918, he moved to the United States, and settled in San Francisco.[1] In San Francisco, Wells started lecturing on his travel experiences.[3]

Wells led expeditions to Kenya, Tanganyika, Mt. Ararat, Panama, Mexico, Japan, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, India and Manchuria.[1]

In 1932, Wells married his wife, the former Zetta Robart.[1] Robart had been Wells' production manager. In 1934, Wells' first wife, Laura T. Wells, sued Ms. Robart, alleging misconduct and alienation of affections.[4]

In the early 1930s, Wells and his wife travelled to Soviet Russia, on a trip that would take him to the borders of Turkey, in search of the remains of Noah's Ark. On the trip, Wells observed the Soviet famine of 1932-33, which would eventually kill millions of Russians.[5][6] Wells also encountered a group living in the Carpathian mountains, which still had chainmail left over from the Crusades.[6] Wells recorded his observations of the trip in his book, Kapoot: The Narrative of a Journey From Leningrad to Mount Ararat in Search of Noah's Ark.[5]

In the 1930s and 40s, Wells and his wife began producing films concerning their travels. They jointly produced The Jungle Killer (1932), Russia Today (1933), and Australia Wild and Strange.[5][7]

In his book, North of Singapore, written in 1939, Wells documented Japanese attitudes towards the United States and China on the eve of World War II.[3]

On that same trip to the Far East, in 1939, Wells adopted a talking mina bird—which he named "Raffles." Raffles appeared with Wells on many radio programs and at theaters. He is credited with helping Wells sell more than $1 million of war bonds in the United States during the Second World War.[1]

Wells lectured widely in the United States, Britain, Norway and Sweden. In 1942, he was a civilian orientation lecturer for servicemen about to go abroad.[1]

On 9 June 1946 the couple produced one of the world's first television shows, Geographically Speaking, which featured home movies of their travels. The show was not recorded, since recording technology did not yet exist. The series ended in December 1946, when the couple ran out of home movies.[8]

At the time of his death, in 1957, Wells and his wife were producing a local television show in New York, called Carveth Wells Explores the World.[1]

Books by Carveth Wells

  • Wells, Carveth (1925). Six Years in the Malay Jungle.
  • (1925) In Coldest Africa
  • (1925) A Jungle Man and His Animals
  • (1931) Congo to the Mountains of the Moon: Adventure!
  • (1932) Adventure
  • (1932) Let's Do the Mediterranean
  • Wells, Carveth (1933). Kapoot: the narrative of a journey from Leningrad to Mount Ararat in search of Noah's ark.
  • (1933) Light on the Dark Continent
  • (1934) Exploring the World With Carveth Wells
  • Wells, Carveth (1935). Bermuda in Three Colors.
  • Wells, Carveth (1937). Panamexico.
  • (1939) Around the World with Bobby and Betty
  • (1940) North Of Singapore
  • (1941) Raff, the Jungle Bird:The Story of Our Talking Mynah
  • Wells, Zetta Robart; Wells, Carveth (1945). Raffles: The Bird who Thinks He is a Person.
  • Wells, Carveth (1954). Introducing Africa.
  • (1954) The Road To Shalimar


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Carveth Wells, Explorer, 70, Dies; Author and Lecturer Sought Secrets of Strange Places --Owned Talking Bird". The New York Times. 17 February 1957.
  2. ^ Lim, Teckwyn. 2020. Ethnolinguistic Notes on the Language Endangerment Status of Mintil, an Aslian Language. Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (JSEALS) 13.1 (2020): i-xiv. ISSN 1836-6821. University of Hawaiʼi Press.
  3. ^ a b c Wells, Carveth (1940). North of Singapore. National Travel Club.
  4. ^ "Sues Carveth Wells's Wife". The New York Times. 22 March 1934. p. 14.
  5. ^ a b c Wells, Carveth (1933). Kapoot: the narrative of a journey from Leningrad to Mount Ararat in search of Noah's ark. R. M. McBride & Co.
  6. ^ a b Pianciola, Niccolò (2001). "The Collectivization Famine in Kazakhstan, 1931–1933". Harvard Ukrainian Studies. 25 (3–4): 237–251. JSTOR 41036834. PMID 20034146.
  7. ^ ABORIGINES & ANIMALS OF AUSTRALIA "WILD AND STRANGE" 1930s TRAVELOGUE 58244, retrieved 2021-04-09
  8. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. p. 525. ISBN 9780307483201. Retrieved 19 August 2017.

Media files used on this page

Carveth Wells, circa 1930, wearing pith helmet.jpg
Author/Creator: Hal Phyfe, Licence: Fair use (Old-50)
cropped portion of a black & white photograph of the explorer Carveth Wells depicted in three-quarter profile from the waist up. Attired in a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, a pith helmet tilted at an angle on his head, as he glances over his right shoulder.