|William Gifford Palgrave|
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Dr Geoff Nash will be giving the lunchtime lecture at the National Portrait Gallery on 21st January 2016 (1.15pm). Drawing on the Gallery’s current display, Geoff looks at the extraordinary life of the leading British explorer and scholar of the Middle East, William Gifford Palgrave (1826-1888). After serving for a time in the Indian army, Palgrave converted to Roman Catholicism and worked as a missionary in southern India until 1853. He began his long engagement with the Arab world in 1855 as a missionary in Syria, where he witnessed the persecution of Syrian Christians. Palgrave’s most notable achievement lay in exploring Arabia, which had for years been closed to Europeans. In 1862 and 1863 he became the first Westerner to cross Arabia by a diagonal route, from north-west to south-east, travelling in disguise and at great risk as a European. A deep interest in identity, whether racial, national and religious is made evident in Palgrave’s writings, his propensity for disguise and by his multiple name changes.
Tickets: £3 (£2 concessions and Gallery Supporters). Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.