the first hajj to be undertaken by a british muslim woman.
COBBOLD, Lady Evelyn. Pilgrimage to Mecca. London, Butler & Tanner for John Murray, 1934.
8vo. Original green cloth gilt, upper board lettered in gilt with the name Zainab in Arabic, spine lettered in gilt, with the rarely seen dustwrapper (price-clipped); pp. xi, [1 (blank)], 260; half-tone portrait frontispiece, 12 half-tone plates, and one full-page map; dustwrapper lightly spotted and with old marginal repair at head of spine and lower cover, light offsetting from endpapers, otherwise a very clean and fresh copy.
First edition, ?later issue. 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). Her first book was Wayfarers in the Libyan Desert, a journal of her travels through Libya in 1911 with her friend Frances Gordon Alexander, and 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. '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), and in 1933, aged 65, Lady Evelyn became the first British woman to make the hajj (assisted by introductions from Harry St John Bridger Philby). Her pilgrimage is described in Pilgrimage to Mecca, which takes the form of journal entries, opening with her departure from Port Said on 22 February 1933 and concluding to her return to England on 21 April 1933: 'Time cannot rob me of the memories that I treasure in my heart, the gardens of Medina, the peace of its Mosques, the countless pilgrims who passed me with shining eyes of faith, the wonder and glory of the Haram of Mecca, the Great Pilgrimage through the desert and the hills to Arafaat, and above all the abiding sense of joy and fulfillment that possesses the soul. What have the past days held out but endless interest, wonder and beauty?' (p. 253). The work is prefaced by a foreword by Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, the Saudi Arabian Minister in London, who comments that, 'As pilgrims, all of us, in what Bunyan calls "the wilderness of this world", this intimate and vivid description of the Hadj cannot fail to interest everyone' (p. xi).
Interestingly, as with a number of other copies, this copy does not include Cobbold's introduction on pp. xii-xix, and it has been struck out in ink from the list of contents, suggesting that it may have been omitted from later issues of the title. The top edge of the book block not stained green on this copy, as with all issues without introduction.