Duncan J D Smith

Duncan J D Smith is The Urban Explorer, a travel writer, historian, photographer and small independent publisher. Having worked for many years in the publishing industry selling other travel writers‘ books, in 2003 Duncan decided to start writing and publishing his own. He has subsequently embarked on a lifetime‘s adventure, travelling off the beaten track in search of the world’s hidden corners and curious locations, from the wartime bunkers of Berlin and the Baroque gardens of Prague to the souks of Damascus and the rock-cut churches of Ethiopia.

His European findings are being published in a ground breaking series of guidebooks, the Only In Guides, designed specifically for the purpose and published under Duncan's own Urban Explorer imprint. Volumes on Berlin, Boston, Budapest, Cologne, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Krakow, London, Munich, Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Zurich have been published (Seville is in preparation). Aimed at independent cultural travellers, these city tales from new perspectives provide unforgettable memories. The series has garnered considerable press acclaim, with sales to date in excess of 150,000 units.

As a result of his extensive travels, not only through the storied cities of Old Europe but also in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and America, Duncan regularly generates original illustrated material for print and digital media. He is regularly published in magazines such as Timeless Travels and Hidden Europe. He has great affection for the places about which he has written, as well as an extensive photo library available for commercial usage (his images are also available as limited edition greetings cards and prints).

Duncan has appeared on radio and television to promote his work, including the American shows Raw Travel and Mysteries at the Museum. He has also given illustrated lectures in bookshops and universities, to societies and even at London‘s Victoria & Albert Museum. He released his first audio tour CD in 2010.

Born in Sheffield, England in 1960 Duncan first got the history bug when his grandfather revealed the grave of a Roman soldier to him in his back garden! Aged just eleven he opened his own private museum before going on to read Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University. Together with his late father, Trevor, he wrote and illustrated four highly successful books on the curiosities of Sheffield and Yorkshire, and later wrote the best-selling topographical book Yorkshire: A Portrait in Colour. Still a passionate collector he tries to restrict his habit to vintage travel books - he is fascinated by forgotten British travellers of the 1920s and 30s - whilst also enjoying gardening, natural history, and music.

Duncan divides his time between England and Central Europe, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is also a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

"Urban explorer Duncan JD Smith has a real knack for mapping the lesser-known parts of cities, discovering aspects of urban history which most visitors miss. One has the sense of a man who has conducted impeccable research but still contrives to arrive with an open mind. That’s a rare touch." (Hidden Europe magazine)

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Duncan J D Smith


2020: 6 Travel Writers Taking Readers to New Places
Promotional video at

2017: Inside Travel Writing
Interview with

2016: Chanelling History as a Travel Writer
An exclusive interview with

2016: Introducing The Urban Explorer
Travel writing and old school Urban Exploring with

2013: Only in Paris
In conversation with Colin Drury of the Sheffield Star

2011: In the Spotlight
In conversation with the British Guild of Travel Writers

2011: Voices of Exploration
In conversation at

2010: A Conversation with Duncan JD Smith, Urban Explorer and Writer
In conversation with

2010: Slow Travel in Fast Cities
Guest Writer article at

2010: The Beauty in Decay
In conversation with Paul Wild, Sheffield University School of Architecture for 3seventy5

2008: The Urban Explorer Talks
Interview with Radio Augustin, Vienna (audio in English and German)

2005: Only in Vienna
In conversation with Dr. Murray Hall of Radio Ö1 International

Duncan J D Smith


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