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AN ENGLISH SHEIKH

The strange case of a man who sank his personality when he ehaiiged his name, a man who became- a sheik in Turkey.after lie had practised for years in Liverpool as a solicitor, is recalled by the death in London of M. Her! Marcel Leon, Dean of the London School of Physiology, says a London paper. • After he arrived in London more than twenty years ago, M. Henri Leon, as he became after he ceased to be William Henry Abdullah Quilliam, lived in Bloomsbnry, He was one of the ,best-known lAgures in tho reading room of the British Museum, but it was always as ,M. Leon, and never Mr. Quilliam, that he, was known; He was born in the Isle' of Man, educated at Liverpool, and admitted a solicitor in 1878. He was first a Mothodist. Then he became a Moslem, and for" many years' was hailed'as the head of the Moslem's iri England, He went to Persia, and was received by the Shah in 1889. . The next year he- was the guest of the Sultan at tho palace at Yildiz. Later-he went to Afghanistan, and was decorated by the prince and invested with the order of Kolah-u-Izzai. '■■'.! ■ ■•',-'" ■ '•' / He returned to Liverpool in 1898, and there filled tho post of Vice-Consul of Persia: He was twice the guest of the new Sultan of Turkey, in 1898 ana 1900.. He : was the author of many books, dealing "with the religions of the Eastern "and Western worlds. M. Leon toured the country for years, lecturing on religion/ on physiology, and bird life. - ■"■ ' ■-.' ''■ ■■/ \ .- " AIV the time, he was faced with: the question, "Are you M. Leon or are you really Mr. . Quilliam ?''. But M. Lecn never turned back into Mr. Quilliam even for an instant. Mr. Quilliam appeared, with all his Eastern decorations mentioned, in '.'Who's Who?" Then, after a lapse of years, the same particulars were given under the name of Leon.'

STRANGE DUAL LIFE

One of his closest friends during the quarter of a century M. Leon lived in London described him as a man with an extraordinarily fluent tongue, able to lecture on the most abstruse subjects without once referring to notes. "An insignificant exterior hid an extraordinary personality," he explained. "He was a little dark man with a straggling dark beard, who never seemed to trouble about his personal appearance, and was usually shabbily dressed. "But once he was on the platform he seemed to be a different man, and he'wrote and lectured on religions with such intimate knowledge that he was constantly reported in the religious journals of* many denominations. He was a master, of languages and could talk-- fluently in French, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Turkish."

• .■■';",*»« year. 1908 was the turning point in the career of this extraordinary man. The/ Law 'Society . struck "Sheik" Quilliam off the roll. It was alleged that'he- concocted Divorce Court evidence. He-left the little office in Manchester street, Liverpool, where he practised as avsolicitor, for* the glittering palace of the Sultanj on whom he' remained in constant : attendance for months. , : '; . v '.; \, - '■;-■ -..

: He came, back to England a fervent Mohammedan, and conducted services regularly- in" the.•■ Liverpool mosque, where; he claimed 200 converts . for Islam. During; the war he gave, valuable secret service work to the country. Once M. Loon was publicly challenged at a lecture he was giving at Grimsby by a man- who had known him in the days- when he was Mr. Qnilliam, the ljiverpool solicitor. "What floes it matter if I have changed my name ?' ' he answered. "Is Mr. Quilliam dead?" thj man persisted. M. Leon . retorted quietly, f<Mr. Quilliam is still alive." But it was.asiM. Leon that he died in the house in Bloomsbury and as M. Leon he was buried. ;

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19320611.2.48.6

Bibliographic details

AN ENGLISH SHEIKH, Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 137, 11 June 1932

Word Count
626

AN ENGLISH SHEIKH Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 137, 11 June 1932

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