Hillary "Harry" St-John Bridger Philby CIE, also known as Jack Philby or Sheikh Abdullah, his Arabic name, was an Arabist, explorer, writer, and British colonial office intelligence officer. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied oriental languages under E.G. Browne, and was a friend and classmate of Jawaharlal Nehru, later prime minister of India.
In his travels he also took great interest in birdlife and he gave a scientific name to the Arabian Woodpecker, as well as a subspecies of an owl. Most of his birds were named after women whom he admired. He contributed numerous specimens to the British Museum. He also contributed to the draft of a book on the birds of Arabia by George Latimer Bates. However, it was never published, but was made use of in a work on the same subject by Richard Meinertzhagen. Philby is remembered in ornithology by the name of Philby's Partridge.
As he states in his autobiography, he "became something of a fanatic" and "the first Socialist to join the Indian Civil Service" in 1907, and was posted to Lahore in the Punjab in 1908. He acquired fluency in Urdu, Punjabi, Baluchi, Persian, and eventually Arabic languages. Philby married Dora Johnston, his first wife, in September 1910, with his distant cousin Bernard Law Montgomery as best man. He also later married an Arab woman from Saudi Arabia. He had one son, Kim Philby, later a British intelligence agent infamous as a double agent for the Soviet Union, and three daughters.