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Jean Cunninghame Graham
(Jean, Lady Polwarth)




Jean Cunninghame Graham was born into a family alternately ruled by the sea and the saddle. She is descended from a long line of Scottish naval commanders, one of whom commanded Gibraltar during the Napoleonic Wars and married a beautiful Spanish wife. Perhaps it was this dash of romantic Spain, mixed  with their background of Scottish nobility, which set the Cunninghame Grahams apart from the other lairds? The most famous of these was Jean’s great uncle, Robert .

Known as “Don Roberto,” he lived a life of extraordinary circumstances during which he mastered the arts of horsemanship, fencing, writing, politics and exploration. But even though she knew Don Roberto well as a child,  Jean’s early years were primarily spent as a “sailor’s daughter,” in the company of her father, an admiral in the Royal Navy.

Perhaps it was this childhood full of exotic ports and runaway ponies, strange languages and spicy dishes, that gave young Jean her love for adventure, travel and writing. Or was it the literary legacy left to her by her famous uncle, whose writing was envied by H. G. Wells and Joseph Conrad, among many others?

Regardless, in later years Jean undertook the largest research project of its kind when she began writing about the complex and far-flung life of Don Roberto. The resultant biography of the man, hailed as the originator of modern Scottish independence, is a perfect blend of talents from these two citizens of the world.

Gaucho Laird

Jean Cunninghame Graham


ISBN 1590481798




There once rode a man whose life could not be compared to ordinary mortals. This gentleman roamed the world, saddled every breed of horse, lived through a hundred adventures, went to prison to defend his beliefs and wrote like an angel.

They called him Don Roberto Cunninghame Graham and the world was a sadder place for having lost sight of his great soul.

Yet how do you encapsulate such a gigantic existence onto the cramped pages of a single book? And who could possibly understand the life and times of a mounted literary legend?

This stunning new biography is the answer to both questions, for the book has been written by the person who learned first hand from the Gaucho Laird himself.

Don Roberto’s great-niece, Jean Cunninghame Graham, (Jean, Lady Polwarth) has written a striking biography of the man who rode with the gauchos and battled social injustice as a Member of Parliament in London.
First-hand knowledge, a treasure trove of family documents, unexpected discoveries, and a delightful writing style all combine to bring the author’s famous uncle to life.
“Jean’s Gaucho Laird is  readable and lively, with lots of new material. It is a distinctly vivid tribute to a great man,” said Professor Cedric Watts, an expert on the life and accomplishments of the man who championed Scottish home rule.
Regardless of where he was, or what great adventure he was involved in, Don Roberto could be counted on to turn his keen eye and quick pen to recording the colourful life swirling around him. His great-niece has now followed in his footsteps, by bringing the Scottish Don Quixote to life at last.

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