Wilfred Thesiger Wilfred Thesiger

Wilfred Thesiger

The Life of the Great Explorer

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    • £7.99

Publisher Description

Wilfred Thesiger, the last of the great gentlemen explorer-adventurers, became a legend in his own lifetime. This authorised biography by a longstanding friend and associate delves into his little-known character and motivations, as well as recounting the details of his extraordinary life.

Wilfred Thesiger, the great explorer-adventurer and author of ‘Arabian Sands’ and ‘The Marsh Arabs’, and one work of autobiography ‘The Life of my Choice’, became a legend in his own lifetime, but his character and motivations have remained an intriguing enigma.

In this authorised biography – written with Thesiger’s support before he died in 2003 and with unique access to the rich Thesiger archive – Alexander Maitland investigates this fascinating figure’s family influences, his wartime experiences, his philosophy as a hunter and conservationist, his writing and photography, his friendships with Arabs and Africans amongst whom he lived, and his now-acknowledged homosexuality.


‘A model biography of the explorer…Maitland has meticulously separated reality from legend…here was such a remarkable personality, who did so many indisputably remarkable things, that the embroidery does not seem important.’ 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.’ The Spectator

‘This thorough biography will be fascinating to Thesiger aficionados.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Maitland has done justice to an extraordinary subject.’ Scotsman

‘In this important biography of one of England’s great legendary figures, Wilfred Thesiger’s life and works are analysed in minute detail…(his life) was so full of interest and excitement…that it reads like an adventure story.’ Country Life

About the author

Alexander Maitland was a close friend of Thesiger for forty years. He edited Thesiger’s anthology, ‘My Life and Travels’ (2002) and helped produce Thesiger’s ‘My Kenya Days’, ‘The Danakil Diary’, ‘Among the Mountains’ and ‘A Vanished World’. He is the author of biographies of Freya Stark and John Hanning Speke, and most recently of ‘Wilfred Thesiger: A Life in Pictures’.

24 June
Harper Perennial

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