The introduction provides a background to the calls that have been made by scholars over the last half-century for a detailed biography of Strachan. The greatly increased interest in the history of the interaction of the West with eastern societies has caused a number of researchers to regret the lack of information on a scholar that many have come to realise was an important early contributor to European understanding of Islamic culture and eastern languages. The difficulties caused by the paucity of Strachan’s own description of his life and works are explained and the wide range of archives requiring to be consulted is covered – Papal, Carmelite, Jesuit, English East India Company records as well as accounts of other travellers in the East. Particular attention is given to Strachan’s album amicorum (book of friends) and collection of manuscripts in Arabic and Farsi
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