|William Gifford Palgrave, 1868 |
© National Portrait Gallery, London
The next talk in this semester's series of English research seminars will be given by Dr Geoff Nash. Drawing on the National Portrait Gallery’s current display, Geoff will consider the extraordinary life of the leading British explorer and scholar of the Middle East, William Gifford Palgrave (1826-1888), assessing his adoption of disguise, and his reputation as a 'brilliant failure'. 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, as is his propensity for disguise and his multiple name changes. All are welcome to attend the event, which takes place on Wednesday 17th February in Priestman Building 301: 5-6pm.