Reviews and synopsis

The Exiled Collector

The Exiled Collector


On 30 August 1841, William John Bankes, former Tory MP, pioneer Egyptologist and renowned traveller was caught in compromising circumstances with a guardsman in London’s Green Park. Bankes paid a heavy price for his moment of madness: less than two weeks later, well aware that sodomy carried the death penalty, he fled into exile eventually settling in Venice. The Government declared Bankes an outlaw – a vindictive and archaic procedure which entitled them to seize his house, Kingston Lacy in Dorset.

The Exiled Collector is the poignant story of how Bankes, friend of Byron and the Duke of Wellington, eventually turned his personal tragedy to posterity’s benefit. Based in Venice, he continued to collect obsessively for a house he no longer owned. He found fulfilment through designing, commissioning and creating as well as collecting for the house he loved but was able to visit only in secret at the end of his life. Based on extensive research from previously undiscovered archives, this is the first full biography of William Bankes. It vividly recounts his dramatic life story, examines the psychology of collecting and the pain and creativity of exile and affords a revealing insight in the minds of a ruling elite in early Victorian Britain.

To hear a broadcast of the lecture Anne gave about William Bankes – The Exiled Collector at the Boston Athenaeum during her last US lecture tour organised by Royal Oak Foundation please go to William John Bankes: The Exiled Collector – WGBH

Spectator Books of The Year 2004:
The Exiled Collector “The stuff of which novels are made.

For Feature article on Kingston Lacy and William Bankes in the Bournemouth Echo please see PDF
exiled collector article

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