Sketches in Afghaunistan


James Atkinson (1780–1852) was a man of many talents, best known for his early translations into English of Persian poetry and prose. He was born in England and studied medicine in London and Edinburgh. He was appointed an assistant surgeon in the Bengal service in 1805 and spent most of the rest of his life in India. In his spare time he mastered Persian, and by 1814 he had published a translation of part of Firdawsi’s Shahnamah (Book of kings), the first time the Persian epic was made accessible to an English audience. In 1838 Atkinson was appointed chief surgeon of the Army of the Indus, and in that capacity he accompanied the army on its march to Kabul in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42). He left Afghanistan in 1841 to return to India. In 1842 he published a first-hand account of the war entitled The Expedition into Affghanistan: Notes and Sketches Descriptive of the Country. Atkinson was also a talented artist, several of whose works are now in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Sketches in Afghaunistan is a book of lithographs based on drawings that Atkinson made in Afghanistan. Published in London in the same year as The Expedition into Afghanistan, it includes 25 sketches depicting scenes in Kabul, mountain scenery, and significant events during the war.

Last updated: January 17, 2017