The adventurous and unconventional Lady Hester Stanhope (1776-1839) set off to travel to the East in the early nineteenth century. She had been hostess to her uncle, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, and after his death she received a government pension and decided to leave England. Her personal physician Charles Meryon (1783-1877) wrote this three-volume memoir of their travels, first published in 1846. She had a reputation as an eccentric, but thought of herself as the 'Queen of the desert' and indeed achieved considerable influence in the places she travelled to. Eventually she settled in the Lebanon, where she lived out the remainder of her life. Volume 1 describes travels in Greece, Egypt, Palestine and Syria, and an account of being shipwrecked near Rhodes. It concludes with the party's arrival in Damascus, where Lady Hester dressed in men's clothing and refused to wear a veil.