The Wilder Shores of Love
The Stories of Four Nineteenth Century Women Who Travelled East
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Originally published in 1954, The Wilder Shores of Love pioneered a new kind of group biography focusing on four nineteenth-century European women "escaping the boredom of convention". They leave behind them the industrialized West for the Middle East, to find love, fulfillment, and "glowing horizons of emotion and daring".
Isabel Burton: obsessed by her wild explorer husband Richard Burton who brought the Kama Sutra to the English, and was one of the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Aimee Dubucq Rivery - the cousin of Napoleon's wife Josephine - who was kidnapped by pirates and ended up in the Sultan's harem; the mother of Mahmud II. Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss-Russian linguist who wrote extensively about her travels across the Sahara, who felt most comfortable in boy’s clothes and lived among the Arabs, became addicted to hashish and died in a flash-flood in the desert at the age of 27. And the one with whom Lesley Blanch felt the greatest affinity, Jane Digby el Mezrab, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain: "She had a superb home in Damascus, was uninhibited, rode through life jumping all the fences, social and moral."
The Wilder Shores of Love has remained in print in English since it was first published, and is considered to be an excellent example of the genre narrative non-fiction.
Lesley Blanch was a distinguished writer, artist, drama critic and features editor of British Vogue during World War II. The author of twelve books, including Journey into the Mind's Eye, Round the World in 80 Dishes, Pavilions of the Heart, Pierre Loti and The Sabres of Paradise, she died in 2007, age 103. Her memoirs On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life are published by Virago, Little Brown.