In 1903, Lorimer was commissioned by the British Raj to compile a handbook for British diplomats and agents in the Persian Gulf region. Initially given only six months, he insisted on being granted more time to ensure the handbook was thorough. The result was the 5,000 page two-volume Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf and Central Arabia. Due to the secrecy of the document, it was not acknowledged in his obituaries and public knowledge of the document only became apparent when the document was declassified in 1955.
The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf is more commonly known by historians and academics alike simply as ‘Lorimer’s’, a respectful nod to its creator. Lorimer was another of the small cadre of prominent early 20th Century British officials who played a considerable part in setting out the future of Central Arabia and Persia, but one whose endeavours have long been forgotten.
Alan Dillon served for 12 years in the Royal Marines before changing his profession from one of soldiery to diplomacy, joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2000. He has worked extensively in South Asia and the Middle East. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, author of Captain Shakespear, Desert Exploration, Arabian Intrigue and the Rise of Ibn Sa’ud, published by Medina Publishing in 2019 and Lorimer, His Gazetteer and Britain’s Pursuit of Knowledge, to be published in summer 2024.
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