In the time of the 'Great Powers', Stratford Canning served as British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during several long missions throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. Drafted into diplomacy by his older cousin and mentor, the statesman George Canning, Stratford arrived in the Ottoman capital at the age of 22 in January 1809, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. He concluded his final mission there in October 1858, more than two years after the end of the Crimean War. His name became synymous across Europe with the so-called Eastern Question, the imperial contest between the Powers for leverage in the Levant. Canning was a prominent figure in major diplomatic episoes of the period, including the crucial peace-treaty reached by the Ottomans and Russians in late May 1812, only weeks before Napoleon's invasion of Russia; the war of Greek independence in the 1820s and the negotiation of an independent Greek state in 1832; and the preliminaries of the Crimean War in 1853. He witnessed and documented dramatic moments of Ottoman politics, such as the Vaka-i Hayriye or 'Auspicious Event'- the elimination of the ancient elite palace guards, the Janissaries, by Sultan Mahmud II in June 1826. For decades Canning supported the Ottoman reform movement, and he played a role in developments preceding Sultan Abdulmecit's abolition of capital punishment for apostasy from Islam in March 1844. In The Voice of England in the East, Steven Richmond reconstructs the imperial objectives and diplomatic pratices of the period; and depicts the characters, customs and scenes of Konstantniyye, Ottoman Constantiple. Based upon Canning's personal archive, British and Ottoman diplomatic records, newspaper accounts, correspondence and memoirs, the result is an original study of East-West relations and a vel portrait of empire at the dawn of the industrial era.
Steven Richmond received his doctorate in Russian history from the University of Chicago in 1996. He taught history in Istanbul, Turkey for more than ten years. He is presently a Research Fellow of the Netherlands Institute of Turkey, and an Associate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.