Letters from Mark Sykes to his wife Edith

Scope and Content

Starting in 1903, this bundle completes Mark's trip travelling in the East with his friend, with whom he became increasingly annoyed and impatient at his treatment of the native population and stubbornness to change any travel routes. Once he had arrived back in England, he intended to marry Edith, and the letters express an anxiety over his father's approval of the match, followed by various preparations and details once their marriage had been accepted. Soon after their wedding Mark took an appointment under George Wyndham, Chief Secretary of Ireland, but the letters show he found the work unchallenging and un-stimulating, and he expressed a general boredom and dissatisfaction with politics. By 1905, he had requested a post in the East, and became honorary attaché in Constantinople, eventually returning to England again in 1906. These letters offer a further insight into his relationship with his wife, his children, Freya and Richard, and his opinions of political figures of the day. There are also some interesting opinions on Miss Gertrude Bell, a fellow Eastern traveller and ambitious orientalist.

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