Open up a world of Turkish inspiration with a Cornucopia digital subscription

Buy a stand-alone digital subscription and get unlimited access to dozens of back issues for just £18.99 / $18.99 a year.

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive.
Please register at with your subscriber account number or contact

Buy a digital subscription Activate free digital access (print subscribers only) Go to the Digital Edition

The Sultan’s Organ

Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy

Published by Propolis Books

£10.99 / $15.38 / €12.77
($/€ approx)

Paperback, 199 pages, 2017
Book Description

When Thomas Dallam, a young organ builder from north-west England, was commissioned to build a musical clockwork marvel, jewel encrusted and with a multitude of wondrous moving parts, he found himself acting as ambassador for Elisabeth I. The organ was to be a gift for the mighty Ottoman Sultan, intended to buy his favour and cement trading rights for the English Levant Company across his empire, and Dallam was instructed to present it to the Sultan in person.

The detailed diary he kept during his year-long voyage was turned into readable modern English by John Mole in a book of the same title published in 2012, which made no attempt to embellish its narrative. Gathorne-Hardy, author of books on the British nanny and public school system, has expanded on this rich primary source to give a taste of the extraordinary world Dallam travelled to as he sailed through the Mediterranean and Levant before eventually arriving at the beating heart of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople.

The people and places he encounters – from the pirates of Algiers to the inside of the Sultan’s harem – introduce us to a charming and erudite man of his age, as well as shedding light on a part of the world that remains a beguiling and fascinating place.

“The author’s research has been thorough, but his learning is as lightly worn as his eye for detail or a telling anecdote is keen. He writes with an easy and agreeable elegance; in short, his book is a delight. A lesser writer would have made it two or three times as long.” — Allan Massie, The Scotsman.

Related Books
Cornucopia Bookshop


Back Issues



Cornucopia Digital Subscription

The Digital Edition

Cornucopia has joined forces with the digital publishing platform Exact Editions to offer individual and institutional subscribers unlimited access to a searchable archive of fascinating back issues and every newly published issue. This brand new resource is available cross-platform on web, iOS and Android and offers a comprehensive search function, allowing the title’s cultural content to be delved into at the touch of a button.

Digital Subscription: £18.99 / $18.99 (1 year)

Subscribe now

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive. If you are already a subscriber, please register at with your subscriber account number or contact