Islamic scholarship

The pleasures — and trials — of knowing Bruce Wannell

Bruce Wannell was by some way one of the most charismatic travellers I have ever met. Despite his almost complete penury, he would dress in perfectly tailored cashmere and, with a shawl swept over his shoulder, fix his attentive listeners with a glittering eye and a voice that could sweep dangerously low when he was about to cast aspersions on someone else’s cooking or scholarship. As this affectionate compilation of tributes by friends and admirers shows, Bruce himself ‘not only spoke Persian with a dazzling, poetic fluency, he could also talk in Arabic, Pushtu, Urdu, Swahili, be amiable in Amharic, Spanish and Greek and could lecture in French, Italian or