Sir Richard Burton was a diplomat, orientalist, and eccentric. He was a gifted linguist, and his command of the Arabic language allowed him to blend in among the Arabs. In 1853, he performed Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is expected to make, at a period when such an act by a European may have resulted in death. During his stint as a Foreign Office official, he published a number of travel books, but he is most known for his unexpurgated translation of The Arabian Nights. He worked on a translation of The Perfumed Garden for the last fourteen years of his life, but Lady Burton burnt it after his death.