Palmer, Edward Henry, a master of several languages and dialects, was born on Aug 7th, 1840 in Cambridge. Left an orphan while still an infant, he was raised by an aunt. Learning Romany was the first of his linguistic achievements. He acquired his fluency in Romany as well as knowledge of gypsy life and ways by spending time in and around the tents of gypsies. He finished school at the age of sixteen and worked as a junior clerk for three years at the office of Hill & Underwood, wine merchants of Eastcheap, London. During his spare time he would visit caf�'s to learn the Italian language. He acquired quite an impressive vocabulary and was able to speak in several Italian dialects. He also learned to speak fluent French as well.
In 1859, he became ill with pulmonary disease and returned to Cambridge in preparation of his death. However, he mysteriously recovered. Palmer then took to amateur acting, drawing and modeling. In 1860 he met Seyyid Abdallah, son of Mohammad Khan Bahadur of Oudh who was a teacher of Hindustani at Cambridge. The friendship led to Palmer's interest and life-long devotion to the study of Oriental Languages. Palmer learned Persian, Arabic, and Hindustani. He was admitted to St.John's College on Oct 9, 1863. He graduated with a B.A. on April 4th 1867, and received his Masters degree on June 18th, 1870. Palmer cultivated his writing of Persian by contributing to Indian newspapers. He was elected to a fellowship at St. Johns College on Nov 5, 1867. Palmer had a strong desire to visit the east, and he was given the opportunity to do so in 1869. He took part in a team of individuals in a "Survey of Sinai" funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund. During the survey he was able to befriended Arabs and actually learned to speak their dialects and understand their way of life. He returned to England in 1869 and set off for a second expedition on Dec 16th to walk 600 miles from Sinai to Jerusalem. The two expedition combined retraced the steps of the Israelite Exodus and resulted in the his book "The Desert of the Exodus."
Returning to his Cambridge residence he wrote and lectured for the next ten years. On November 11th, 1871 he married Laura Davis. His wife Laura died in 1878, and he married again the following year.
In 1874, he published the Grammar of the Arabic Language; in 1876, he published the Concise Dictionary of the Persian Language; and in 1880, he published his famous translation of the Qur'an. In 1881, he gave up lecturing and entered into a new career as a journalist writing for the Saturday Review,, the Athenaeum, the Times and the Standard.
On June 30, 1882, he departed for Egypt on a secret service mission for the English government. The mission was a government attempt to detach the Arab tribes from the side of the Egyptian rebels and secure the Suez Canal from Arab attack. It was a mission that proved to be deadly for Palmer and his entire crew. On Aug 8th he set out to meet an assembly of leading sheykhs. On the morning of Aug 11th he was assassinated. On April 6th 1883, his remains were brought home and buried in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Palmer began his travel in Cairo. Traveling by railway to the Gulf of Suez, the members of the expedition traveled by camel to Mt. Sinai. Palmer then returned to England (The first expedition was specifically to survey Mt. Sinai area.) In December of 1869 he took to his second expedition to actually retrace the Israelites wanderings in the wilderness of the Exodus. He and his team traveled 600 miles by foot. They began again at the Gulf of Suez. Their next major stop was at Nakl, a square fort in the middle of the desert maintain by Egyptian soldiers for the protection of the caravan of pilgrims which passed annually on the way to Mecca. They continued their travel through the desert until they came to the river Jordan on May 10th, 1870. They crossed over the Jordon by ferry boat, then rode their horse into Jericho and ended their Exodus travel.
Brief History of the Text:
The Desert of the Exodus: Journey on foot in the wilderness of the forty years' wanderings; undertaken in connexion with the ordnance survey of Sinai, and the Palestine Exploration Fund was originally published in 1871 by Deighton, Bell and Co. of Cambridge, England. It was printed in the United States in 1872 by Harper & Brothers of New York. In 1977, it was reprinted by Arno Press Inc. The reprint was made from copies in the Pennsylvania State Library. Palmer dedicated the book to the Reverend George Williams B.D. who was instrumental in employing Palmer on the expeditions.