Wilfred Thesiger was born in 1910 at the British Legation in Addis Ababa, and spent his early years in Abyssinia. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. In World War I, serving with the patriots under Orde Wingate in Abyssinia, he was awarded a DSO. He later served with the SOE (in Syria) and the SAS in the Western Desert.
Thesiger’s journeys have won him the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, the Lawrence of Arabia Medal of the Royal Central Asian Society, the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Burton Memorial Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
His writing has won him the Heinemann Award; Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature; and Honorary DLitt from Leicester University and an Honorary DLitt from the University of Bath.
In 1968 he was made CBE. He is Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College, Oxford. He was honoured with a KBE in 1995.
For over twenty years, until 1994, he lived mostly among the pastoral Samburu at Maralal in Northern Kenya. He died at the age of ninety-three in August 2003.