For certain Englishmen the Arabian desert and its inhabitants have always exercised a powerful fascination that has at times become an obsession. By the early nineteenth century, a tradition of writing about the Arabs was flourishing and Arabia had become 'a land whose name could evoke haunting echoes of the unconscious mind ...a country of the mind more real than any place on a map'. Looking at the lives of the four most influential Victorian writers on Arabia - Richard Burton, Gifford Palgrave, Wilfrid Blunt and Charles Doughty - as well as exploring the legend of T.E. Lawrence, Kathryn Tidrick reveals how these lonely figures merged into a collective image of the Englishman adventuring in desert lands, pushing himself to the limits of physical and mental endurance, surviving and prevailing because he understood the natives better than they understood themselves - an image that lent powerful support to imperial pretensions and formed the basis of western understanding of Arabia for generations to come. Riveting and revealing, "Heart Beguiling Araby" tells the story of a deep and lasting obsession and its effect on the very different men who experienced it.
Kathryn Tidrick is the author of "Empire and the English Character" and "Gandhi". She was born and grew up in Britain and has a Ph.D. in psychology from London University. She has lived in the United States, Jamaica, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and India and now makes Scotland her home.