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Shadows and Light, The Extraordinary Life of James McBey

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Creative genius, war artist, adventurer, lover. These are just some of the words that can be used to describe Aberdeenshire-born painter and printmaker James McBey (1883–1959). This illegitimate son of a blacksmiths’ daughter was the acknowledged heir to Whistler and Rembrandt. But after his death in 1959, his renown as one of Britain’s most accomplished artists faded.

At the heart of this biography is his time as a war artist in the Middle East during the Great War, his love affairs, marriage to a beautiful American and his enduring passion for Morocco.

This biography reinstates a great 20th century artist whose respectful focus brought the Arab world into the British consciousness.

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'James McBey made his name as one of the great war artists in the Middle East: his famous painting of Lawrence of Arabia hangs in the Imperial War Museum. In this revelatory biography Alasdair Soussi brings this complex and mesmerising man to life, setting his art alongside his unrestrained private life, and giving him the literary portrait he has long deserved.'

- James Barr, author of A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that shaped the Middle East

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Alasdair Soussi


about the author
Alasdair Soussi is a freelance journalist, writer and filmmaker from Glasgow. A graduate of the University of Glasgow, he has reported from such cities as Beirut, Cairo, Freetown and Madrid for the likes of Al Jazeera online and Abu Dhabi’s The National.
about the artist
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