This is the first full biography of an unjustly forgotten man: Thomas Witlam Atkinson (1799 — 1861), architect, artist, traveller extraordinaire, author — and bigamist.
Famous in his lifetime as ‘the Siberian traveller’, he spent seven years travelling nearly 40,000 miles through the Urals, Kazakhstan and Siberia with special authorisation from the Tsar, producing 560 watercolour sketches — many published here for the first time — of the often dramatic scenery and exotic peoples. He kept a detailed daily journal, now extensively quoted for the first time with his descendants’ cooperation.
This is also the story of Lucy, his spirited and intrepid wife and their son Alatau Tamchiboulac, called after their favourite places and born in a remote Cossack fort. They both shared his many adventures and extremes of heat and cold, travelling with him on horseback up and down precipices and across dangerous rivers, escaping a murder plot atop a great cliff and befriending the famous Decembrist exiles.