Travels in Arabia


Travels in Arabia provides an overview, intended for a general audience, of the most important European travelers to Arabia in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book was compiled and written by Bayard Taylor (1825–78), an American poet, translator, and travel writer, and first published in 1872. Shown here is a slightly revised and updated edition, published in 1892. Following brief introductory chapters about the geography of Arabia and ancient travelers to Arabia, the book devotes one or more chapters to the following explorers: Carsten Niebuhr (1733–1815), a Danish civil engineer who journeyed through Arabia and Yemen in 1762–67; Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784–1817), a Swiss orientalist who in 1812 was perhaps the first European to discover the ruins of Petra; James Raymond Wellsted (1805–42), a lieutenant in the Indian navy who traveled to Oman in the mid to late 1830s and surveyed much of the coast of Arabia; the great British explorer, linguist, and writer Captain Richard Burton, who made a daring voyage to Mecca in 1851–53; the English linguist, missionary, and spy William Gifford Palgrave (1826–88) who traveled through central Arabia in 1862–63; and Lady Anne Blunt, who crossed northern Arabia in 1878–79. Taylor was especially impressed by Palgrave’s writings and his ability to describe Arab life, and he devoted nine of the book’s 16 chapters to this explorer. Taylor’s method was to include both summary material that he wrote and long quotations from the books and journals of the explorers themselves.

Last updated: October 19, 2015