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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.
Jean Cunninghame Graham
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
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.
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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