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This trip resulted in the book, In Patagonia (1977).

He used his quest for his own "piece of brontosaurus" (the one from his grandparents' cabinet had been thrown away years earlier) to frame the story of his trip.

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At 18 he went to work at Sotheby’s in London, where he gained an extensive knowledge of art and eventually ran the auction house’s Antiquities and Impressionist Art departments.

In 1966 he left Sotheby’s to read archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, but he abandoned his studies after two years to pursue a career as a writer. He travelled the world for work and interviewed figures such as the politicians Indira Gandhi and André Malraux.

Among the items it contained was a "piece of brontosaurus" (actually a mylodon, a giant sloth), which had been sent to Chatwin's grandmother by her cousin Charles Milward.

Travelling in Patagonia, Milward had discovered the remains of a giant sloth, which he later sold to the British Museum.

Later in life Chatwin also spoke of having become "burnt out" and said, "In the end I felt I might just as well be working for a rather superior funeral parlour.