Full title … “Personal Narrative of a Year’s Journey through Central and eastern Arabia by William Gifford Palgrave.
This is the first one volume edition published by Macmillan, London in 1869. The first edition in two volumes having been published in 1865.
Large octavo, 422 pages after preliminaries with vignette portrait on the title page plus a large coloured folding map and four folding plans. Striking gilt pictorial covers slightly aged a trifle shaken, still an excellent copy. Carries the name plate of Edward Charles Stirling one of Australia’s greatest all round scientists of the era.
A special book. Palgrave’s narrative of the first recorded west-east crossing of the Arabian Peninsula, from Ma’an in Sothern Jordan to the Gulf. Palgrave disguised himself as a Syrian doctor and took on the name Selim Abu Mahmoud al’Eis. He journeyed for thirteen months and took in Ha’yel, Bereydah, Riad, Hothoof, Kateef, then on to Bahrain and Qatar and Muscat and Oman places little understood in the west at that time. Palgrave was sponsored by the French (Napoleon III) partly to investigate the potential trade in Arabian horses and cotton.
The vignette portrait was engraved by Feens from a medallion by Woolner. The hand tinted map was engraved by J. Sulzer and colour coded, defining the Sultan of Shomar; the Sultan of Wahhabee; Sultan of Oman etc. The plans are of Hayel, Riad, Hothoof and the Palace at Riad.
The first owner Sir Edward Charles Sterling was a leading figure in South Australia. He was a surgeon, physiologist, anthropologist, palaeontologist and legislator … quite a man. Educated at St Peters College, Adelaide and then on to Trinity Cambridge (another one!) became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1874, a fellow of the Royal Society (the World’s Greatest Club) in 1893 and then knighted. He was the first Professor of Physiology at Adelaide University … took part in the important Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia as Medical Officer and anthropologist … he wrote some of the better papers. He also had time to reconstruct fossils of the giant extinct marsupial wombat and collect rare marsupial moles in the outback. On retirement he developed one of Australia’s most admired private gardens being a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society … a good life.
Important Middle Eastern travel account – prestigious owner