Book on village’s most extraordinary resident

Major RG 'Pum' Gayer-Anderson (centre) ANL-150519-145501001
Major RG 'Pum' Gayer-Anderson (centre) ANL-150519-145501001

A historian is hoping Lavenham residents and history lovers will help fund her book on one of the village’s most extraordinary residents.

Dr Louise Foxcroft, a historian and broadcaster from Cambridge, has read through and written up the 11 volumes and 130,000 words of Major RG ‘Pum’ Gayer-Anderson’s memoirs, detailing his many adventures in The Irish Pasha.

Pum was a British Official in Cairo as the empire was falling. When in Britain he would reside at his home, the Little Hall in Lavenham, where he and influential guests would walk around the village with his brother in full colonial uniform, including helmet and medals.

“Candid and charming, the story is interspersed with the sordid and violent, and was conceived as a gauge of self-knowledge,” said Dr Foxcroft.

“When I first read through the memoir and looked through the photographs letters, diaries and drawings at the home of Pum’s grandson, Theo, in Waterbeach, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Who could fail to be gripped by all this?”

For the book to be published Louise needs people to support it on the crowdfunding website Unbound.

Each supporter will not only receive a copy but will have their name printed at back of every book as a thank you.

During his life Pum was an Egyptologist, poet, surgeon, soldier, psychic, noted collector and self-confessed tomb-robber, which included smuggling the Gayer-Anderson Cat, a bronze ancient Egyptian statue, back to England.

The statue is now in the British Museum.

“As a child in the 1880s he crossed an unforgiving America with his entrepreneurial and eccentric Irish parents,” Dr Foxcroft explained.

“As a man he adopted Arab life and immersed himself in it as colonials seldom did.

“He sailed the Nile, wrestled Turks and crocodiles, fought at Gallipoli, smoked opium, performed surgery in the desert, collected and repaired artefacts, survived assassination attempts, was there at the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1923 and boiled the flesh from the skulls of Nubian warriors.”

To help fund the book and to purchase a copy visit unbound.co.uk/books/the-irish-pasha.