Explorer, scholar, travel writer and poet, Charles Doughty was one of the great 19th-century adventurers. In the 1870s he spent two years wandering through Arabia, first with the Haj pilgrimage, then joining nomadic bands of Arabs. Unyielding in his independence of mind, the tall, red-bearded Doughty's aggressive refusal to conceal his Christianity made his travels all the more dangerous: he was threatened with death several times, spurned, insulted and often beaten by angry mobs.
The story of his archaeological investigations and his wide-ranging observations of Arabia and desert life were published in 1888 as 'Arabia Deserta'. Although feted by the literary establishment, Doughty often found himself at odds with the authorities, his work rejected and his genius (as he saw it) neglected. His long, impassioned and often paradoxical life make him one of the great British scholar-eccentrics.