Impeccably aristocratic and eccentric in a uniquely English tradition, Aubrey Herbert was at first sight an incongruous champion of Albanian nationalism, to say the least. Tall, slender and slightly stooped, with a moustache and heavily lidded eyes, Herbert wore a monocle and had white patches in his hair caused by an attack of alopoecia in 1911. Within England - let alone abroad - he cut a colourful figure. But Herbert was also an acclaimed linguist, intrepid traveller and an outspoken and independent thinker, who became enthralled by the Balkans on his first visit to the region in 1904 as honorary attache at the British Embassy in Constantinople. From that time until his death in 1923, he was indefatigable in campaigning for the Albanian cause. He returned frequently to the country and gained respect as an expert on the region, even being honoured with repeated requests that he assume the Albanian throne. "Albania's Greatest Friend" charts Herbert's involvement with Albania over the course of his life, in his own words, through his own extensive diaries and letters.
It paints an authoritative portrait not just of a remarkable Englishman but also sheds fresh light on the wider Albanian national movement and a fascinating period in European history.
The Hon Aubrey Nigel Henry Molyneux Herbert (1880-1923) was the second son of Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon. He worked for two years as a diplomat, four years as an officer in the Irish Guards during World War I and for twelve years he was the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Somerset and Yeovil. Herbert and his wife, Mary, had four children. His daughter, Laura, married the novelist, Evelyn Waugh. Jason Tomes is a Lecturer in British History at Boston University. His previous publications include King Zog: Self-Made Monarch of Albania and Balfour and Foreign Policy. Bejtullah Destani is a British-Albanian scholar and founder of the Centre for Albanian Studies in London, of which he is the Director. He is the editor of numerous books about the history and politics of Albania.