It is an Edwardian maverick's search for beauty in dark and tumultous times. Born in 1881, Pum Gayer-Anderson qualified as a doctor prodigiously early and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1906 he was seconded to the Egyptian Army where his love affair with the East began. As a child he had travelled across a raw and unforgiving America with his wayward Irish parents; as a man, he adopted Arab life, shot elephants in Africa, wrestled Turks and crocodiles, smoked opium and hashish, fought at Gallipoli, boiled the heads of Nubian warriors for Henry Wellcome, and was present at the opening of Tut-ankh-Amen's Tomb in 1923. Pum encountered and worked with some of the early twentieth century's most illustrious figures - Lawrence of Arabia, Kitchener, Allenby, Eric Gill, Stephen Spender and Freya Stark, among others - and he amassed a remarkable collection of Eastern treasures, most famously the Gayer-Anderson cat which now resides in the British Museum.
In this highly original and elegant biography, acclaimed historian Louise Foxcroft vividly recounts the extraordinary story of a man of many guises: a soldier, surgeon, homosexual, Orientalist, collector, Pasha, and poet, whose colourful life symbolised a tightrope walk across the divide between East and West and the decline of an Empire.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd