A devoted and determined traveller, Wilfred Thesiger was a pioneer of 20th century exploration. Escaping from the way of life from the Western World, his expeditions took him throughout Arabia and Africa where he immersed himself in local life and nomadic culture.
Being raised in Addis Ababa, gave him the thirst for adventure and during his education in England he often took himself off on diverse travels one of which was joining the trawlers in Iceland for a season. These experiences fuelled and shaped his passion for experiencing civilisations as well as giving him skills that he would put into practice during some of his most gruelling situations.
In 1930 he was invited to the coronation of Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa who remembered the assistance form Thesiger’s diplomat father during the civil uprising. Following this, he started his career in the Sudan Political Service and Defence Force.
After the Second World War, Thesiger embarked on a series of expeditions across Arabia and Kenya recording his travels in literature and photography. One of his first books was Arabian Sands when he travelled on foot through the Empty Quarter in the Arabian Desert, adopting the life of the Bedo.
Later he explored and lived in the marshes of Iraq for eight years where he began to give basic medical attention to local communities. This experience was the topic for his second book, The Marsh Arabs.
Thesiger explored and engaged in cultures in far-flung places not previously known to Europeans. He donated over 30,000 negatives of his travels to the Pitt Rivers museum, allowing us a snapshot of tribes and cultures untouched as well as his extraordinary life.
View the Wilfred Thesiger Notebook for a perfect gift for avid explorers.
Thesiger’s Travel Literature:
1959 – Arabian Sands
1964 – The Marsh Arabs
1979 – The Last Nomad
1987 – The Life of My Choice (part biography)
1987 – Visions of a Nomad
1994 – My Kenya Days
1998 – Among the Mountains: travels in Asia
1998 – A Vanished World