A Pilgrim's Journey , by Lady Evelyn Cobbold
A Pilgrim's Journey
Lady Evelyn Cobbold
After spending her childhood holidays in North Africa (specifically, Libya) Lady Evelyn became fascinated with the Muslim way of life and eventually converted to Islam. This book recounts her travels to Medina to visit the Prophet’s mosque and then to Mecca to perform Hajj on 26 March 1933 at the age of 65. Lady Evelyn was a Scottish aristocrat, a Mayfair socialite, an accomplished angler and renowned deerstalker. She was the first British Muslim woman to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Her pilgrimage account, first published in 1934, received favourable reviews in most British newspapers and periodicals. Unlike other authors of Hajj accounts, she was able to describe the lives of women residing in the holy cities.
"It is a valuable record of the hajj ... We do not forget that the author is a Lady - she stays with the distinguished St John Philbys in Jeddah and travels to Mecca in a large limousine with chilled chicken and soda-water in a hamper at the back - but the picture she gives of the experience is unelaborate and revealing, and detailed enough to serve as a guidebook as well as a travel account." (p.41, Robinson, Wayward Women, Oxford University Press, 1990).
Lady Evelyn (then, Zainab Cobbold) died in 1963 and was buried on a hillside on her estate in Wester Ross. 'Her splendidly Islamo-Caledonian interment symbolised her two worlds: a piper played MacCrimmon's Lament, while the Surah "Light" from the Quran was recited in Arabic.' (Facey, From Mayfair to Mecca, Guardian, 19 May 2008).