Sir Richard Francis Burton, British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat, is actually best known for his extraordinary knowledge of language and cultures.
He was purported to be fluent in 29, including European, Asian – and African. African expeditions abounded and adventuring included an entourage carrying British ‘comforts’; a good Georgian writing desk, folding chairs, canvass, piles of rugs, a full canteen of cutlery and one’s own chef. A return to home soil often resulted in the masters’ study taking on an African theme, surrounded by his mementos of safari.
Burton was engaged by the Royal Geographic Society to explore the East coast of Africa and was the first European to see Lake Tanganyika. He also undertook an exploration to find the source of the Nile. It would be some time hence before Gordon Bennett commissioned Stanley to find Dr Livingstone (I presume!)
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