“Georgia Hesse Wins BATW’s 2012 Rebecca Bruns Memorial Award”

 by Carol Canter

The BATW 2012 Rebecca Bruns Memorial Award goes to Georgia Hesse, Grande Dame par excellence of the Bay Area travel writing community.

Founding travel editor of the San Francisco Examiner in 1963, Georgia set a high bar for a section that invited travelers, both armchair and active, to revel in the pleasures of fine travel writing. More than half a century later, she remains an inspirational teacher, mentor, and weaver of enchanting stories. BATW was honored when Georgia joined our organization a few years ago, and her contributions have been formidable, as a panelist, speaker, and vice president.

Elegant and erudite, a true original, Georgia embodies the legacy of our late beloved tropical travel writer. In Georgia’s own words:

Like Rebecca, I always have felt an attraction to the tropics. It was my job, of course, to try to value our multiple worlds equally, since I was writing for a public of all persuasions and who is to tell Everyman what is divine and what is only correct? I recognize the attractions of Mother England, certainly, but personally I revel in the witchiness of Wales, say, or the sprite-spirits of Scotland. And they are but pale shadows of those who pad through jungles by night in deepest Guatemala (as Rebecca discovered) or swim in the translucent layers of water off Bora Bora.

When Georgia recently discovered Rebecca’s writing—by way of  “Native Daughter,” an article on Rebecca’s home town of New Orleans first written for Travel & Leisure—she made the following comment: “It is so well-written, thoughtful, touching, poignant, stirring, inspiring – in fact it transmits a kind of enchantment one doesn’t often read in one’s daily rounds.”

Georgia then asked how best to reach Mrs. Ruth Bruns, Rebecca’s mother who is about to turn 93. “I should very much like to tell her how impressed I am with her daughter’s insight and use of the language. I cannot tell you how pleased I am that BATW is once again honoring this writer whom I just have had the fortune to meet,” Georgia said.

And so it is especially fitting and gratifying that Georgia Hesse has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the BATW Rebecca Bruns Memorial Award. We are very proud to present it, and hope it might be displayed in the company of Georgia’s other impressive honors, such as L’Ordre National du Mérite from France and Chevalier de la Republique from Tunisia.

[Ed. Note: For more information about Rebecca Bruns and the award, please visit http://batw.org/category/contests/rebecca-bruns-memorial-award/. Other recipients of this award have been: Christopher Baker (2005); Patricia Lee (2006); Bruce Whipperman (2008); and Lee Foster (2010).]