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The life of Lt. Col. Alan Colstoun Gardner - Soldier, Hunter and Politician
Book Cover

Alan Gardner's name is carved into the annals of military history as one of only five Imperial Officers to survive the disastrous Anglo Zulu War battle of Isandlwana. This book explores in great depth the controversies of this military figure, and how he also went on to become a famous big game hunter and Liberal Member of Parliament. It is the first complete in-depth biography of an Isandlwana survivor to be published since that fateful day 139 years ago.


About the book

The author has been privileged to speak to Alan’s direct descendants, as well as those of his brothers and sisters, and has been allowed access to private family photographs, letters and correspondence.

Using photographs and letters from such private collections as well as museums, archives and libraries that have never before been published, this is an essential book for anyone interested in the Gardner family, the Anglo Zulu War, big game hunting, local history and Victorian high society.

The book is presented in a luxury, hard back format containing 412 pages and over 230 illustrations and photographs in full colour throughout. This is a limited print run publication of only 350 copies, many of which have already been reserved.

About Alan Gardner

Born in 1842, Alan Gardner was a professional soldier in Queen Victoria’s Army for 22 years, serving both in India and Africa. He then went on to become a famous big game hunter and Liberal Member of Parliament.

Book with pistol and spearAt the battle of Isandlwana in South Africa on 22nd January 1879, Alan was responsible for writing the note warning the garrison at Rorke’s Drift of the impending arrival of 4000 Zulus, which ultimately lead to its survival and the award of 11 Victoria Crosses to its defenders. He would go on to fight at two other major battles of the Zulu War; Hlobane and Kambula. A controversial figure during the campaign, this book explores in great depth his relationship with his fellow officers, the press and why he was seen by some as a coward who ran away.

After leaving the army Alan returned to his family who lived at Stansted Hall, Essex and married a local girl, Nora Blyth, from Blythwood house. Along with his wife - a fascinating figure in her own right - they travelled the world in search of big game, and both became renowned hunters. This book looks at these foreign travels, hair raising encounters with the local wildlife and later political campaign trail when Alan would become a Member of Parliament for Ross in Herefordshire.

The Gardners were a fascinating family who became ingrained into the aristocratic families of the time, and this book looks at Alan’s life from when he was a boy through to his death. It also looks at the Gardner family and its relationship within Victorian high society. There are chapters on Alan’s grandparents, parents and brothers and sisters, the very people who moulded Alan into the sort of man he was to become.

About the author

Book presented with artifactsThe author has been studying the Anglo Zulu war for over thirty years and has walked the battlefields of South Africa many times. Responsible for having Alan’s headstone restored as well as additional memorials being put in place in his memory, she is an authority on the Gardner family and often gives presentations not only about them but also about the Anglo Zulu War.

Rifle and Spear with the Zulu

Hardback, colour, 412 pages
280mm by 210mm, 2kg