Georgia: A Cultural Journey Through the Wardrop Collection

By Nikoloz Aleksidze

Published by The Bodleian Library (2018)

When Marjory Wardrop joined her diplomat brother, Oliver, in Georgia in 1894, they found themselves witnessing the birth pangs of a modern nation. Recognising the significance of these transformative years, they actively participated in the work of Ilia Chavchavadze and other leaders of the independence movement, culminating in Georgia's declaration of independence in 1918. Becoming increasingly fascinated by Georgian history and culture, the Wardrops gathered a significant collection of manuscripts dating from the eleventh to the twentieth century, including a seventeenth-century manuscript of Georgia's national epic poem, 'The Man in the Panther's Skin', which Marjory famously translated. A remarkable number of items in the collection, now housed at the Bodleian Library, illuminate an important aspect of medieval and modern Georgia. Through these items - manuscripts, royal charters, correspondence, notebooks and a draft of the 1918 declaration of Independence - Nikoloz Aleksidze narrates a history of Georgian literature and culture, from the importance of epic and folk tales, to the Georgian Church's battle against persecution, to the political activism of women in Georgia at the end of the nineteenth century. Richly illustrated with rare and previously unpublished images from the collection, this book not only offers a unique insight into Georgian culture and political history and but also tells the remarkable story of an eccentric English diplomat and his talented sister, whose monument now stands outside the parliament building in Tbilisi.

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