Author(s): Alexander Maitland
A unique collection of essays accompany Wilfred Thesiger's own personal photographs of the Africa he experienced as one of the world's most celebrated explorers. SIR WILFRED THESIGER, last of the great gentleman adventurers, was, in the words of David Attenborough, 'one of the very few people who in our time could be put on the pedestal of the great explorers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.' Born at the British Legation in 1910 in Addis Ababa, Thesiger spent his early years in Abyssinia. He was educated at Eton and Oxford and in 1930, aged twenty, attended the coronation of Haile Selassie at the Emperor's personal invitation. Throughout his life he journeyed through some of the remotest, most dangerous areas of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, witnessing and photographing fast-changing cultures to great acclaim. His many inspiring travels involved explorations in Ethiopia, wartime service with the SOE and the SAS, crossings of the Empty Quarter of Arabia, sojourns in the Iraqi marshes and many loyal and sometimes turbulent friendships. During the 1960s he travelled extensively in East Africa, and from 1978 he spent the greater part of each year living among the pastoral Samburu in Kenya, until retiring to England in 1994. He was knighted in 1995 and died in 2003, aged ninety-three. His books, including 'Arabian Sands' (1959) and 'The Marsh Arabs' (1964), have been hailed as classics of modern travel writing. Published to coincide with the centenary of Wilfred Thesiger's birth and a major exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum, this book is a moving celebration of Thesiger's enduring relationship with the African continent, and his fascination with its peoples and landscapes. Containing around two hundred photographs from Thesiger's personal archive, many of them previously unpublished, these essays explore and evaluate his lifetime of exploration and travel in Africa, as well as, for the first time, his photographic practice and its legacy as a museum collection.
A unique collection of essays and personal photographs
Reviews for 'Wilfred Thesiger: The Life of the Great Explorer' - by Alex Maitland 'Meticulous research is illuminated by Maitland's evocations of Thesiger's affinity with a world characterised by desert romance.' - Sunday Telegraph 'This book is a worthy testament to an exceptional life - and as an authorised biography it is also the last cry of Thesiger himself, someone who evoked complete worlds of brutal majesty now denied the rest of us forever.' - Independent on Sunday 'Masterly.' - The Times 'In his long and extraordinary life Wilfred Thesiger was compared to the greatest travellers of the Victorian age! Maitland captures that strange attractiveness, his undoubted love and understanding of a now-vanished world.' - Financial Times 'What makes Maitland's book so worthwhile are the letters which Thesiger wrote home to his devoted mother Kathleen.' - Spectator 'This thorough biography will be fascinating to Thesiger aficionados.' - Mail on Sunday 'Maitland has done justice to an extraordinary subject.' - Scotsman
Born in Scotland in 1940, Alexander Maitland studied at the Glasgow School of Architecture and School of Art. He later worked intermittently for architectural practices in London and Edinburgh while continuing to write and paint. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has contributed to newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes. Alexander Maitland now lives mainly in London. He is married, with three children.