Antony Wynn

Author of Three Camels to Smyrna: Times of War & Peace in Turkey, Persia, India & Afghanistan 1907-1988 – The Story of the Oriental Carpet Manufacturers Co. (Hali Books 2008). In its day, this company was far the biggest carpet exporter in the Near and Middle East. This book tells the story of the wars and revolutions of this period through the eyes of the weavers in their villages, the merchants in the small towns and the financiers in London, Paris and New York who backed them. Many books about oriental carpets have been written; this is the first one about the people who made them and brought them from the remotest of villages to the drawing rooms of Europe. The author, who spent four years with the company in Iran, draws on his own experiences to tell the tale.

His first book was Persia in the Great Game – Sir Percy Sykes: Explorer, Consul, Soldier, Spy( John Murray, 2003). Sykes spent 25 years in Iran from 1893 to the end of the First World War as an agent of Curzon’s forward policy to counter Russian expansion southwards towards India. His detailed diaries had much to say about a very turbulent period of Iranian history that even Iranians historians knew little about. It has been translated into Persian and well received.

He spent most of his working life in Iran and has travelled and worked extensively in China, Mongolia and the countries bordering the Caspian Sea. Now spends much of his time at home in a Turkoman yurt, which provides much-needed extra space for the family cottage near Canterbury. He is chairman of The Iran Society, a cultural organization, and edited its journal for seven years. He has also written occasional articles for Cornucopia magazine, a quarterly magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey, and for Hali Magazine, which specializes in oriental rugs.

He is currently working on the story of Maria Stella, who was believed by many in France and Italy to have been exchanged at birth for the son of a Florentine gaoler, who went on to become King Louis-Philippe of France. He is waiting for an opportunity to examine the Vatican Archivi Segreti , where there is a contemporary file that might prove the truth of the story once and for all.

Also in gestation is a contemporary travel book about Iran. While searching the remoter parts of the country for herbs and spices such as saffron, cumin, henna and manna, the author listens to what the people he meets have to say about their lives and their beliefs, with a glance at the ruins of caravanserais and castles that he comes across – and the people who built and destroyed them. It is a search for the inextinguishable essence of Persia that has survived countless invasions, revolutions and disasters.