Outlandish Knight

The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman

Minoo Dinshaw

'An extraordinary book ... exceptionally fascinating, always readable and penetratingly intelligent' David Abulafia

'As rich, funny and teemingly peopled as Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time ... Dinshaw writes with wit and elegance, and the most elegiac passages of Outlandish Knight evoke a lost society London and way of life' Ben Judah, Financial Times

'This dazzling young writer is a mine of fascinating, memorable and totally useless information... I have been riveted by this book from start to finish, and leave the reader with one word of advice. Watch Minoo Dinshaw. He will go far' John Julius Norwich, Sunday Telegraph

The biography of one of the greatest British historians - but also of a uniquely strange and various man

In his enormously long life, Steven Runciman managed not just to be a great historian of the Crusades and Byzantium, but Grand Orator of the Orthodox Church, a member of the Order of Whirling Dervishes, Greek Astronomer Royal and Laird of Eigg. His friendships, curiosities and intrigues entangled him in a huge array of different artistic movements, civil wars, Cold War betrayals and, above all, the rediscovery of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean. He was as happy living in a remote part of the Inner Hebrides as in the heart of Istanbul. He was obsessed with historical truth, but also with tarot, second sight, ghosts and the uncanny.

Outlandish Knight is a dazzling debut by a writer who has prodigious gifts, but who also has had the ability to spot one of the great biographical subjects. This is an extremely funny book about a man who attracted the strangest experiences, but also a very serious one. It is about the rigours of a life spent in the distant past, but also about the turbulent world of the twentieth century, where so much that Runciman studied and cherished would be destroyed.

  • Penguin
  • Published 6th July 2017
  • 784 Pages
  • 129mm x 198mm x 34mm
  • 557g
  • £10.99