History
English edition  
December  2016
272 pp.
29 b/w illus. 
Hardbound
15X23 cm
$35.00
LE220
ISBN 9789774168000
For sale worldwide

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Gayer-Anderson

The Life and Afterlife of the Irish Pasha Louise Foxcroft

A fascinating biography of the renowned Orientalist and collector

Based on the personal journals of Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson (1881–1945), Egyptologist, poet, surgeon, soldier, psychic, and noted collector, this candid and charming historical biography tells of Gayer-Anderson’s strange and eclectic life in the final days of the British empire. As a child, he crossed an unforgiving America with his entrepreneurial and eccentric Irish parents. As a man, he immersed himself in the Arab way of life as colonials seldom did; he saw ghosts and witches, sailed the Nile, wrestled Turks and crocodiles, fought at Gallipoli, smoked opium, performed surgery in the desert, gathered and cared for artefacts and boys in his Cairene home, survived an assassination attempt and, in the name of science and Henry Wellcome, in flowery glades he boiled the flesh from the skulls of Nuba warriors. His personal journals are filled with frank accounts of his exploits and of the illustrious and colorful people who wandered by: Lawrence of Arabia, Gordon, Kitchener, Conan-Doyle, Eric Gill, and Stephen Spender, among others. Drugs, race, class, family, sex, and selfhood are vividly mixed in this tale of two wars, colonial life, medicine, anthropology, and psychic phenomena. The stiff-upper-lipped ritual of a very British upbringing vied with his Romantic and consuming love of beauty, vividly embodied in the Gayer-Anderson Museum in Cairo, which to this day houses his vast collection of carpets, furniture, glassware, and other curios.
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Louise Foxcroft is a prize-winning historian and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge. She has published six books, and has appeared on television and radio. www.louisefoxcroft.com

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"Gayer-Anderson is a fascinating figure, his name commemorated today in the form of the ancient Egyptian cat sculpture that he gave to the British Museum—the Gayer-Anderson cat. So it is good to have an exhaustive biography at last of this remarkable man."—Penelope Lively<br><br>

“A delightful portrait of ‘John’ Gayer-Anderson, which offers both insights into a fascinating man famed for his collecting of antiquities—now spread across the world’s museums—and a mirror to the rapidly changing world of the first half of the 20th century. . . . Gayer-Anderson witnessed the fading of the British Empire alongside shifting attitudes to religion and sexuality. His unpublished memoirs, poetry, and drawings underpin this profile that is intimate, amusing, and sometimes gruesome.”—Neal Spencer, British Museum<br><br>

“This is a fascinating study. Foxcroft is perceptive, accurate and knowledgeable. She writes well and with proper detachment, not least about Pum’s psychic theories, supposed paranormal capacities and claims to have seen ghosts and witches. In fact she sees him plain, setting him vividly in the context of his age. Stephen Spender described Pum as a ‘rare and lovable personality’. On the evidence of this book he was an absolute horror.”—Piers Brendon, Literary Review

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