In this wonderful short book author, Anna Myers looks at the colorful life of the extraordinary bohemian adventuress Lady Hester Stanhope.
Lady Hester lived in England until the age of about 33 when she set off traveling and fell in love with the Middle East. While en route to Egypt she was shipwrecked, and lost all her clothes. Unable to purchase European clothes she adopted a male version of Turkish dress. This, made her a bit of a 'cause celeb' in the Middle East, and also that she rode horseback into Damascus without a veil, an unthinkable thing to do at the time. In fact, many of the things Lady Hester did were unthinkable at the time, which is what made her such a colorful character.
Many of the travels she undertook were exceedingly dangerous, but she appeared fearless. She was the first European woman - and one of the few Europeans to survive the dangerous journey - to enter Palmyra, in the middle of the Syrian desert. The native Bedouins crowned her as "Queen of the Desert". Hester chose to settle down in Lebanon, where she became a local folk hero, offering shelter to those affected by wars and the battles for supremacy in the region.
When the British Government under Lord Palmerston stopped her pension, she died in her home in Djoun, destitute, friendless and alone.