Description

    First Editon of Burton's Trek Over Central Africa

    Richard F. Burton. The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860.

    First edition, second issue (remainder binding). Two octavo volumes. 412; 468 pages. Twelve chromoxylographic plates, with tissue guards, twenty-two woodcuts, hand-colored folding map at rear of Volume II, and twenty-four-page catalog dated October 1858.

    Publisher's full brick-red cloth. Boards with triple blind ruling. Backstrips with gilt double ruled heads and tails, and gilt titles. Modestly rubbed with a hint of darkening to backstrips and mild soiling to boards. Top edge faintly darkened. Bookplate in each volume. Minor toning to pages with some offsetting to pages opposite tissue guards. Faint dampstain to top edge of Volume I measuring two-inches by one-half-inch and bleeding into pages one-half-inch along fore-edge. This minor blemish to pages 155 to 275. Volume I has cracked spine with two sprung gatherings. A superlative, near fine set, seldom found in this condition and by far the best we have ever offered.

    The account of Sir Richard Burton's 1856-59 expedition with John Hanning Speke to central east Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Embarking from Zanzibar, the expedition endured incredible hardships and difficulties for more than seven months before finally arriving at Lake Tanganyika -- the largest of the Central African lakes -- on February 14, 1858. After three months exploring the shores of the lake, Burton embarked upon the return journey, and Speke was dispatched to verify reports of another lake to the north. Speke visited this lake, the Victoria Nyanza, briefly and obtained some vague information from the locals. Based on this, he decided he had discovered the true source of the Nile -- a decision that would lead to a celebrated and bitter feud with Burton.

    For Burton, this expedition into Central Africa was perhaps the most taxing of his career. By the time he returned to London, he found that Speke had already published his conclusions and assigned all the glory of the expedition to himself. The controversy surrounding the expedition left Burton "disgusted, desponding, and left behind in the spirit and in the flesh," according to his old friend Alfred Bate Richards. In the preface Burton discounts Speke as being little more than a subordinate on the expedition, never having held the position of surveyor as he claimed upon his return to England.

    Penzer, pp. 65-67.


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    October, 2010
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
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