Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert
Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert

[COBBOLD, Lady Evelyn], and Frances Gordon ALEXANDER]. Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert.

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[COBBOLD, Lady Evelyn], and Frances Gordon ALEXANDER]. Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert. New York, The Knickerbocker Press for G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1912.

8vo Original red cloth gilt, upper board with gilt rule border and with central ornament in gilt, spine lettered and ornamented in gilt, top edge gilt, pictorial endpapers; pp. ix, [3], 255; frontispiece in sepia photogravure, retaining tissue guard, illustrations after photographs in the text; a very fresh, bright copy.
First US edition. The daughter of the well-known traveller Charles Adolphus Murray, Earl of Dunmore (1841-1907) and a relative of the adventuress and traveller Jane Digby (1807-1881), Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1867-1963) developed an interest in both travel and Islam 'during a childhood punctuated by winters in Algeria and Egypt, where she accompanied her father on sorties into the desert. In Algeria she learnt to speak Arabic and delighted in escaping her governess to visit local mosques with her Algerian friends. She later considered that, "unconsciously I was a little Moslem at heart"' (ODNB). Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert was her first work, and is a journal of her travels through Libya in 1911 with her friend Frances Gordon Alexander: the work was jointly written by Lady Evelyn and Alexander, and the English edition was issued under Lady Evelyn's name and the American edition (which contains a slightly different text) was issued under Alexander's name. Before World War I, Lady Evelyn travelled in the Middle East, meeting T.E. Lawrence near Petra in 1914 and again in Egypt in 1915, by which time she had renounced Christianity for Islam and had taken the Muslim name Zainab, and 'Subsequent study of Islam persuaded her that Islam was the religion "most calculated to solve the world's many perplexing problems, and to bring to humanity peace and happiness"' (ODNB). In 1933, aged 65, Lady Evelyn became the first British woman to make the hajj (assisted by introductions from Harry St John Bridger Philby), describing the experience in Pilgrimage to Mecca (London: 1934). - This US edition appeared without Lady Cobbold's name on the title-page. Her American travel companion was a New York socialite who had married Allen Gouverneur Wellman in 1910. 'It is very unusual in publishing circles for the same text to be published the same year under the same title by two different authors, but this is what happened in 1912 with Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert' (Cobwebs New & Views, Cobbold Family History Trust, online).

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