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O'DONOVAN, Edmond.

The Merv Oasis.

Travels and Adventures East of the Caspian during the Years 1879-80-81 including Five Months' Residence among the Tekkês of Merv.

Published: London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1882

Stock code: 94638

Price: £950

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition. “In 1879 O’Donovan, still in search of adventure, undertook, again as Daily News correspondent, his celebrated journey to Merv in Turkestan—a daring, difficult, and hazardous feat, with which his name became associated. From the Russian advanced posts on the south-eastern shores of the Caspian Sea he travelled through Khorasan, and eventually, with great difficulty and at considerable risk, accompanied only by two native servants, he reached Merv. He was at first suspected by the Turkomans of being an agent of the Russians, who were then threatening an advance on Merv. For several months he consequently remained in Merv in a sort of honourable captivity, in danger of death any day, and with no prospect of release. According to his own account, O’Donovan helped mount artillery, and was made one of the ruling triumvirate. He managed to send into Persia a message, which was thence telegraphed to John Robinson, the manager of the Daily News. In this dispatch O’Donovan explained his position, and appealed to his friend: ‘For God’s sake get me out of this’. Robinson applied to the Foreign Office and to the Russian ambassador in London, and immediate steps were taken to effect O’Donovan’s release. However, by his own efforts, combining courage with diplomacy, he extricated himself from his perilous position. On returning to London ‘the man of Merv’ was a celebrity, and he read a paper to the Royal Geographical Society. In 1882 he published a book on his adventures, The Merv oasis: travels and adventures east of the Caspian during the years 1879, 1880, and 1881” (ODNB).

2 volumes, octavo. Original brown cloth, gilt lettered spines. Engraved portrait frontispiece of O’Donovan, 15 plates of maps, plans and facsimiles (some folding), large coloured folding map of the Russo-Persian frontier (in pocket at end of volume II). Very slight “dishing” of covers otherwise an excellent set.

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