Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, writer, scholar, soldier, diplomat, ethnologist, linguist, poet, fencer, and perhaps a spy. He spoke 29 languages – many fluently. He was one of the first Europeans to visit the holy city of Mecca. He explored extensively in Africa, including the Great Lakes District, and is acknowledged as the first westerner to reach Lake Tanganyika – the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 1 – India
In part 1 of our series on British explorer and adventurer Richard Francis Burton, we cover Burton’s early life, including his time in India, where he embraced eastern culture and religion. His linguistic expertise would allow him to travel throughout the region in disguise.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 2 – Medina and Mecca
In part 2 of our series, Burton goes undercover to explore Arabia, including the cities of Medina and Mecca – the two holiest cities in Islam.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 3 – The Somaliland Expedition
Part 3 of our series on Burton takes us to East Africa with the Somaliland Expedition. Burton will make an attempt to reach the inland city of Harar – where no European had ever gone to – and returned.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 4 – Lake Tanganyika
In part 4 of our series, Burton and Speke travel west from Zanzibar in search of the a great inland lake – called the Sea of Ujiji by the Arabs – and Tanganyika by the African people.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 5 – Lake Victoria
In Part five of our series, Burton and Speke head back to Zanzibar. Along the way, Speke leads a side excursion to the north – where he will come upon Lake Victoria – the real source of the Nile.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 6 – The Source of the Nile Controversy
Burton goes to travels to America, and then takes a diplomatic position in West Africa. Meanwhile, Speke returns to Lake Victoria. The episode finishes with a public debate between Burton and Speke – and ends in tragedy.
Richard Francis Burton – Part 7 – Adventures in Writing
The final episode of our series, we follow Burton as a diplomat in Brazil, Syria and Italy. But more importantly, we look at Burton’s time translating eastern texts – including the legendary Arabian Nights.
https://burtoniana.org – the site for all things Burton.
Check out photos of Burton’s tomb.
A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah – Vol 1 and Vol 2, by Richard Francis Burton. Read it online for free (leads to archive.org, which has various options for reading the books).
First Footsteps in East Africa; or, An exploration of Harar by Richard Francis Burton. Read it online for free at burtoniana.org.
The Lake Regions of Central Africa by Richard Francis Burton. Read both volumes online at burtoniana.org.