LAYARD, Austen Henry. Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia including a Residence among the Bakhtiyari and other Wild Tribes before the Discovery of Nineveh. London, John Murray, 1887.
8vo. 2 volumes. Publisher's original green cloth, patterned in green within red border to upper covers, similar motif to spines, lettered in gilt; pp. 8, , 490, [2, advertisements]; 8, , 511; chromolithographic portrait frontispiece of Layard to vol. I, 3 wood-engraved plates, 3 folding maps; light offsetting from endpapers, extremities a little rubbed, spotting to maps, as usuual, but generally a good set; provenance: contemporary H.H. Smiths subscription library bookplates inside front covers (early stamps Sold, late 19th-century collector's stamp in lilac on half-titles E. Tipping Bellurgan Park (Ballymascanlan, Co. Louth).
First edition. Layard published his Early Adventures as a direct response to questions concerning the circumstances surrounding his discovery of Nineveh. Inspired by Henry Rawlinson's RGS article on Ancient Susiana in Persia, Layard travelled there and spent some time among the lawless people of Khuzistan, his account of which in the present work makes entertaining reading. In all Layard remained in the area for 5 years, gathering information which resulted in the successful identification of the site of Nineveh. These two volumes are accounts of Layard's early Middle Eastern journies, some of which undertaken with his friend Edward Mitford. Between 1839 and 1851 'Layard and Mitford travelled through the Ottoman lands, visiting Constantinople (where Layard nearly died of malaria, which recurred in following years) and Jerusalem. He also made a reckless journey alone to see Petra and other ancient sites east of the Dead Sea; he was robbed and nearly killed by tribesmen. They stayed in Mosul and Baghdad; then in August 1840, in Persia, the two parted company, as Layard, who had become enamoured of the simplicity and independence of local life, preferred to stay in the region. He travelled, read widely in local history, learned Arabic and Persian, and spent time in the Bakhtiari Mountains with a tribe which was resisting the oppression of the shah. He returned to Baghdad and Mosul, where he had become fascinated by mounds opposite Mosul which the French consul, Emil Botta, was tentatively exploring. His funds depleted, Layard regained Constantinople in the summer of 1842, expecting to have to return to England. However, he made himself known to Stratford Canning, British ambassador to the Ottoman empire, who admired his spirit and his knowledge of the Turkish-Persian border, which was then in dispute. Layard agreed to stay in Turkey and work for Canning, believing that this was a place of promise for an enterprising and ambitious man. Canning paid him himself, since the Foreign Office under Lord Aberdeen refused to make him a paid attaché. He went on two information-gathering missions in European Turkey. In 1845, fearing that the French would otherwise get the honour, he persuaded Canning to support excavation work on the mounds near Mosul' (ODNB).