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The Danakil Diary. Journeys through Abyssinia, 1930-34.
London: Caledonian International Book Manufacturing Ltd for HarperCollins, 1996. 8vo (234 x 151mm). Original maroon boards, spine titled in gilt, dustwrapper, retaining price; pp. [2 (blank l.)], [i]-xvii, [1 (blank)], [2 (fly-title, facsimile on verso)], 1-207, [1 (blank)], [2 (part-title to index, verso blank)], 209-214, [2 (blank l.)]; 2 colour-printed maps after Thesiger, 12 leaves of monochrome illustrations after photographs by Thesiger, one full-page facsimile and illustrations in the text; dustwrapper very slightly rubbed at edges, very light marginal toning as usual, otherwise a fine copy; autograph presentation inscription on title 'For Bart with bery good wishes / Wilfred Thesiger'). First edition. 'In 1930 Wilfred Thesiger attended the coronation of HIM Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa [as honorary attaché to the Duke of Gloucester], at the Emperor's personal invitation [in consequence of his own and his father's friendships with the Emperor]. Afterwards he spent a month hunting alone in the hostile Danakil desert of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), a thrilling experience which led three years later to his successful exploration of the Awash River. Today he still regards this expedition as the most dangerous he ever undertook. Aged only 23, Thesiger became the first European to travel through the fabled Sultanate of Aussa, a forbidding land where two Italian expeditions and an Egyptian army had previously been wiped out by Danakil tribesman. Thesiger's remarkable journey solved one of Africa's last remaining geographical mysteries [...] A vivid, compelling narrative, The Danakil Diary records how the young Thesiger surmounted overwhelming obstacles and survived the constant threat of death and mutilation by the Danakil, warriors whose tribal status depended on the number of men they had killed and castrated' (dustwrapper blurb). In the course of this expedition, Thesiger collected and preserved some 872 birds, including 192 species and three new subspecies, from the Danakil region, publishing his findings with M. Meynell as 'On a Collection of Birds from Danakil, Abyssinia' in The Ibis series 13, vol. V, no. 4. This copy is from the library of the actress and writer Pauline, Lady Rumbold, who was herself the daughter of the actress Hermione Baddely and the aesthete and writer Stephen Tennant; following marriages to the anthropologist Julian Pitt-Rivers and Euan Graham, Principal Clerk of Private Bills in the House of Lords, she married the retired diplomat Sir Anthony Rumbold, 10th Bt in 1974: 'She used to say, of her three husbands, that she had married first a head, then a body, then a head with a body' (obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 17 December 2008). Rumbold (1911-1983) had known Thesiger at Eton and was his contemporary at Magdalen College Oxford, before going on to enjoy a distinguished career in the Diplomatic Service. In 1984, Rumbold had 'tried very hard to get Wilfred a knighthood' (A. Maitland Wilfred Thesiger: the Life of the Great Explorer (London: 2006), p. 457), but was unsuccessful in his attempt (Thesiger would only be knighted -- unjustifiably tardily in the opinion of many -- in 1995). Following Rumbold's death in 1983 and Thesiger's return to Britain in 1994, he would sometimes stay with the widowed Pauline, and this copy was presumably inscribed to her shortly after its publication in 1996. Provenance: The presentee Malcolm Bart [or Bent?] then passed this book on to a friend with the inscription on the title 'Wilred has given me a second copuy I can't think of a more suitable person to have the first than you. Malcolm Bart/Bent'. P.N. Grover, Bibliography of Works by Sir Wilfred Thesiger, p. 272.
      [Bookseller: Henry Sotheran Ltd.]
Last Found On: 2017-12-12           Check availability:      Direct From Seller    

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