"Curiosity is the only good quality which I ever possessed"
an Account of a Journey in Tibet
Despite a number of more sedentary activities, Savage Landor always felt the irresistible desire to leave again for a new adventure. After his first trip in Asia, he finally was able to organize a new expedition with the help of the Royal Geographic Society. In 1896 he left for Tibet, a country that he had long wished to visit. His aim was to solve some geographical enigmas, such as to discover the principal sources of the Brahmaputra river. This time he could not face the challenge alone as he did in Japan, because too many were the dangers to overcome. First, the only way to enter Tibet was to cross the Himalayan mountains, the Roof of the World, an arduous passage with climate conditions at the limit of human endurance. Secondly, at that time while India and Nepal were under the direct influence of Great Britain, Tibet still resisted Western pressures, continuing to be a Chinese protectorate, refusing to receive any foreigner coming from south.
The detailed account of his travel in Tibet was published in 1898 with the title In the Forbidden Land. An account of a journey in Tibet. It became a best-seller in few weeks, reprinted and re-published many times in the following years. It can be considered a book of adventures, written in a very easy style to be read by a wide range of public, not forgetting that a great part of the stories told there reallly happened to a man and his retinue. Savage Landor lived in those mountains for several months, suffering incredible cold. He had numerous skirmishes with the Tibetans, who captured and tortured him and his most faithful men. However, he was finally saved even if his body was sorely tested, as is demonstrated by some photographs he took of himself soon after his return to India, also published in the book of 1898.
The journey through Tibet was the first in which he used photographs as well as paintings and drawings to illustrate his experiences. This choice is obviously a consequence of the harsh climate conditions he found there: how could he paint at an altitude of 5,000 metres?
However, he did make a great number of drawings recording his experiences in Tibet when he came back to London, using them to organize some temporary exhibitions in the city. Some
Savage Landor’s success was at its height soon after the publication of his book on Tibet, outside England too. In Italy he was privately received in Palazzo Pitti by King Umberto and Queen Margherita, who wanted to meet him and to listen to his adventures in Asia. He had also many conferences, in London as in New York, meeting some of the most influential personages of the day, such as King George and Queen Mary, Duke and Duchess of York.