James Baillie Fraser - Encyclopedia

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JAMES BAILLIE FRASER (1783-1856), Scottish traveller and author, was born at Reelick in the county of Inverness on the 11th of June 1783. He was the eldest of the four sons of Edward Satchell Fraser of Reelick, all of whom found their way to the East, and gave proof of their ability. In early life he went to the West Indies and thence to India. In 1815 he made a tour of exploration in the Himalayas, accompanied by his brother William (d. 1835). When Reza Kuli Mirza and Nejeff Kuli Mirza, the exiled Persian princes, visited England, he was appointed to look after them during their stay, and on their return he accompanied them as far as Constantinople. He was afterwards sent to Persia on a diplomatic mission by Lord Glenelg, and effected a most remarkable journey on horseback through Asia Minor to Teheran. His health, however, was impaired by the exposure. In 1823 he married a daughter of Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, a sister of the historian Patrick Fraser Tytler. He died at Reelick in January 1856. Fraser is said to have displayed great skill in watercolours, and several of his drawings have been engraved; and the astronomical observations which he took during some of his journeys did considerable service to the cartography of Asia. The works by which he attained his literary reputation were accounts of his travels and fictitious tales illustrative of Eastern life. In both he employed a vigorous and impassioned style, which was on the whole wonderfully effective in spite of minor faults in taste and flaws in structure.

Fraser's earliest writings are: Journal of a Tour through Part of the Himala Mountains and to the Sources of the Jumna and the Ganges (1820); A Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the Years 1821 and 1822, including some Account of the Countries to the North-East of Persia (1825); and Travels and Adventures in the Persian Provinces on the Southern Banks of the Caspian Sea (1826). His romances include The Kuzzilbash, a Tale of Khorasan (1828), and its sequel, The Persian Adventurer (1830); Allee Neemroo (1842); and Dark Falcon (1844). He also wrote An Historical and Descriptive Account of Persia (1834); A Winter's Journey (Tatar) from Constantinople to Teheran (1838); Travels in Koordistan, Mesopotamia, £&c. (1840); Mesopotamia and Assyria (1842); and Military Memoirs of Col. James Skinner (1851) .

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