The Atkinsons’ Adventures in Siberia and Kazakhstan
A lecture by John Massey-Stewart
29 January 2020
Where: 1.15pm at the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BQ
John Massey Stewart has written the first full biography of Atkinson -“Thomas, Lucy and Alatau; The Atkinsons’ Adventures in Siberia and Kazakhstan”, published by Unicorn, and has spent many years researching the story of Thomas William Atkinson (1799-1861), an architect, artist, traveller extraordinaire, author – and bigamist. Famous in his lifetime as ‘the Siberian traveller’, but now unjustly forgotten, he spent nearly 7 years travelling nearly 40,000 miles through the Urals, Kazakhstan and Siberia with special authorisation from the Tsar, producing 560 watercolour sketches of the often dramatic scenery and exotic peoples. This is also the story of Lucy, his spirited and intrepid wife and their son Alatau Tamchiboulac, called after their favourite places and born in a remote Cossack fort. They both shared his many adventures and extremes of heat & cold, travelling with him on horseback up and down precipices and across dangerous rivers, escaping a murder plot atop a great cliff and befriending the famous Decembrist exiles.
As writer, lecturer, professional photographer and environmental activist, John has travelled extensively in the USSR/Russia many times since 1960, embracing inter alia the Caucasus, Ob estuary and Vladivostok. He has lectured and given academic papers on different aspects of past and present Russia i n the UK, USA, France, Israel, Canada & Siberia, which he has visited 11 times. He co-founded with the Conservation Foundation the London Initiative on the Russian Environment and has been a Specialist Adviser to a House of Commons environmental inquiry and a delegate to the NATO Advanced Workshop on ecotourism at Siberia’s Lake Baikal.