Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and husband to the Rothschild heiress, Almina Wombwell, was a
multi-faceted character. Yachtsman, motoring pioneer, race-goer, horseracing stud establisher, crack shot, big game hunter
– his interests were indulgent. Yet all these activities are dwarfed by Carnarvon’s finest hour: his unearthing,
with archaeologist friend Howard Carter, of the ancient tomb of a boy king in Egypt; a discovery that captured imaginations
Tutankhamun’s tomb would have
remained lost were it not for Lord Carnarvon, the project’s patron. “Lordy”, as he was named by the natives
of the desert who were employed to dig and shift colossal sand dunes and debris, eagerly spent his wife’s money on several
years of excavations in the Valley of the Kings, led by Carter. How excited he was, then, following the events of 4 November
1922 when the army of diggers uncovered a stone staircase leading down to a lost treasure. The rest is a well-known fable,
with Carnarvon dying soon after the opening of the tomb – the victim of an ancient curse, according to many.
In this retrospective on the 5th Earl, William Cross ( biographer of Lady Carnarvon) offers a portrait
of his very early days within a family saga, based on diaries and correspondence of the 4th Earl, Lordy’s father. Here,
is Lord Carnarvon in a fresh light, one that has hitherto been buried as deep as the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Indeed, Lordy’s father and stepmother, Elsie Howard, butchered parts of the diaries, removing scores of pages, and Elsie
arranged the publication of a watered-down biography of her husband, so keen were they to bury family secrets. Thankfully plenty of evidence about Lordy was not erased, and it is through detailed research that Cross
is able to present this account.