Was the character, Colonel Bradford, in The Eye of Revelation inspired by a real person? A strong possibility is Tibetan explorer and spiritual writer, Sir Francis Younghusband, the author of 26 books.
The following article was written by my friend and colleague, Jerry Watt (RIP), an antiquarian bookseller and collector with whom I shared a special interest in researching and preserving the history of The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. It is published here with his permission. Jerry owned a rare copy of the 1939 Eye of Revelation book and also one of the equally rare 1946 update which includes a new chapter and further information. Using scans from Jerry's books (which are out-of-copyright) I combined the information from both books info one volume - which you can download for Free here. Jerry and I didn't agree on everything, but we both shared a genuine desire to provide interesting and accurate information.
Using clues in the text of the Eye of Revelation, Jerry Watt, estimated the age of Colonel Bradford, the protagonist in the original Five Tibetans story as being around 1866 or 1867. The book identifies Bradford as a high-ranking British Officer, serving in the Diplomatic Service (Intelligence). Watts conducted research to find someone who could match that profile and unearthed, Major-General Sir Wilfrid Malleson who was born in 1866 and served as the head of the Intelligence Branch of the Indian Army for six years . According to Watt, Malleson was in the exact right place at the exact right time to qualify as Colonel Bradford’s true identity.
My response to Jerry's conclusions in this article outlining further research is included at the end. Carolinda Witt.
- - -
Thrice Knighted Major-General Sir Wilfrid Malleson
According to the British Library, no portrait or photograph of Major-General Sir Wilfrid Malleson has survived. As many of you know, I believe that Sir Wilfrid was the "Colonel Bradford" mentioned in the Eye of Revelation as the person who brought the Five Rites to the West.
In the UK, David was just finishing my reprint edition of The Eye of Revelation, when he read that there was no known photograph of Sir Wilfrid. Surprised, David looked up at the window sill and gazed at his wife's photograph of the thrice knighted British Army officer. His wife, you see, is the Granddaughter of Sir Wilfrid Malleson, and her photo may very well be the only surviving photograph of him.
David and Susan emailed me and I subsequently spoke with them on the phone. They are warm-hearted and down-to-earth folks. No cookout would be complete without them. They provided more information about Sir Wilfrid:
- A life-long smoker, Malleson died in 1946 of throat cancer, something the Rites probably cannot protect against.
- He was married twice. He had six sons by his first wife, but no children by his second, Lady Mabel.
- Susan's father, Malleson's son, was born in Kashmir. This places Sir Wilfrid in the same district of the Himis monastery where he could have learned of the Tibetan monks practicing age reversal. It was this information that later lead him to search for the "Five Rites" monastery.
- Even though Susan never knew her Grandfather, she took care of Lady Mabel who lived with her family for a time.
- Lady Mabel, for reasons unknown, destroyed a priceless artifact of Sir Wilfrid's: a 20 volume, leather bound set of a life-time of photographs that Sir Wilfrid took of the various places where he served during his career. These albums would have told us so much about him and his career; and perhaps there were even photographs of a certain Tibetan monastery.
David and Susan forwarded me the photo above. It is undated but my guess is that it was taken around 1904-1910, the time when he served on Lord Kitchener's staff as head of the Intelligence Branch of the Indian Army.
There were numerous scratches and marks on the photo which I repaired in Photoshop. There is a ghost image on the right-hand portion of the photo. My understanding is that this photo was kept on a window sill and the ghost image appears to have been caused by the reflection of sunlight from a white lace curtain.
There is a "haunted" quality to Sir Wilfrid's eyes. They are very intelligent but also strangely sad, perhaps due to the horrors a soldier must sometimes face. That he is dashing and handsome is unquestionable. Colonel Bradford never looked better.
Further Information by Carolinda Witt
Jerry has suggested Malleson as inspiration for Kelder's fictional character, Colonel Bradford. However, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (31 May 1863 - 31 July 1942) seems a far more compelling choice.
Younghusband was a British Army Officer, explorer and spiritual writer. He is remembered for his travels in the Far East and Central Asia; especially the 1904 British expedition to Tibet, led by himself, and for his writings on Asia and foreign policy. Younghusband held positions including British commissioner to Tibet and President of the Royal Geographical Society.
He was Chairman of the Mount Everest Committee which was set up to coordinate the initial 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition to Mount Everest, and actively encouraged the accomplished climber George Mallory to attempt the first ascent of Mount Everest.
Younghusband wrote 26 books in all between 1885 and 1942. Subjects ranged from Asian events, exploration, mountaineering, philosophy, spirituality, politics and more. His book, "The Sum of Things" was published in 1939 and details his life and works in the field of spiritualism.
"A sense of solemn aspiration comes upon us as we view the mountain. We are uplifted. The entire scale of being is raised. Our outlook on life seems all at once to have been heightened. And not only is there this sense of elevation: we seem purified also. Meanness, pettiness, paltriness seem to shrink away abashed at the sight of that radiant purity.”
― Francis Younghusband
Was Kelder's, Colonel Bradford character based on his knowledge of Younghusband's explorations and spiritual beliefs? Perhaps we will never know ...
Click links to Download
© This work is the intellectual property of its authors and is fully copyrighted. It may not be copied or republished in any medium (including but not limited to electronic and print media) without the express permission of the authors. All rights are reserved.