Wilfred Thesiger – British explorer 1910 – 2003
(From the website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesiger)

Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger KBE, DSO (3 June 1910 – August 24, 2003) was a British explorer and travel writer born in Addis Ababa in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). His father was a British diplomat. He was educated at Eton College and Oxford but soon returned to Africa. He joined the Sudan Political Service in 1934, fought in the newly-formed SAS in North Africa during World War II, and later worked in Arabia with the Desert Locusts Research Organisation. His travels also took him to Iraq, Persia (now Iran), Kurdistan, Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), The Sudan, French West Africa, Pakistan and Kenya. He returned to England in the 1990s and was knighted in 1995.

Thesiger is best known for two travel books. Arabian Sands (1959) recounts his travels in the Empty Quarter of Arabia between 1945 and 1950 and describes the vanishing way of life of the Bedouins. The Marsh Arabs (1964) is an account of the traditional peoples who lived in the marshlands of southern Iraq. The latter journey is also covered by his travelling companion, Gavin Maxwell, in A Reed Shaken By The Wind - a Journey Through the Unexplored Marshlands of Iraq (Longman, 1959). Thesiger took many photographs during his travels and donated his vast collection of 25,000 negatives to the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Thesiger was not greatly enamoured of American culture, about which he had this to say:
The long-term effect of US culture as it spreads to every nook and cranny in every desert and every mountain valley will be the end of mankind. Our extraordinary greed for material possessions, the ways we go about nurturing that greed, the lack of balance in our lives, and our cultural arrogance will kill us off within a century unless we learn to stop and think. It may be too late.

Pitt Rivers Museum website
Further information about Wilfred Thesiger, together with his collection of photographs, several of which from the Rub’ al Khali, can be obtained by visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford website http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/index.html


With thanks to  Trevor "Bill" Powell for this contribution
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