Clive Wilkinson trained as a religious studies teacher and taught for a few years at a mission school in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), an experience that radically changed his thinking about religion and politics.
Returning to the UK, he read geography at Newcastle University and undertook doctoral research on human migration in Lesotho. He spent nearly twenty years training geography teachers and environmental studies specialists.
After retirement he undertook part-time work researching youth homelessness, young people on the edge of society and rural development in Northumberland. The results were published under the title The Drop-Out Society and made front-page national news.
When he finally decided to retire properly, he indulged his love of slow travel, crossing continents by train and oceans by container ship – no flying allowed – as well as attempting to drive around England by electric car. His account of freighter travel in the modern age, written in similar vein to Charging Around, was published as Reflections from the Monkey Deck.