Tales of Travel


George Nathaniel Curzon (1859‒1925) was a British politician, traveler, and writer who served as viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905 and foreign secretary from 1919 to 1924. As a young man he traveled extensively and wrote several travel books, or books that drew extensively on his travels, including Russia in Central Asia (1889), Persia and the Persian Question (1892), and Problems of the Far East (1894). Tales of Travel (1923), presented here, is one of his last books. It consists of previously unpublished memoirs and essays based on journeys taken earlier in Curzon’s life. The book reflects the range of Curzon’s travels, his curiosity and powers of observation, and his literary talent. One essay, “The Great Waterfalls of the World,” describes and compares waterfalls in North America, South America, Africa, India, and New Zealand. Another, “The Singing Sands,” deals with the strange singing or rumbling sounds said to be heard in deserts, and discusses this phenomenon as it manifests itself in the deserts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia, the Sinai, Arabia, North Africa, and the Americas. Another piece is about sumo wrestling in Japan. One of the most noteworthy essays in the book, “The Amir of Afghanistan,” is an account of Curzon’s meetings in 1894‒95 with ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (circa 1844–1901), ruler of Afghanistan. Curzon characterizes the amir as brilliant and effective, but also cruel and merciless. “He welded the Afghan tribes into a unity which they had never previously enjoyed, and he paved the way for the complete independence which his successors achieved. He and he alone was the Government of Afghanistan.” The book is illustrated, and contains a large fold-out facsimile of a map of Afghanistan prepared and circulated by ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan.

Date Created

Publication Information

Hodder and Stoughton, London


Type of Item

Physical Description

344 pages : portraits, plates ; 23 centimeters


  1. David Gilmour, “George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859‒1925),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: September 30, 2016