After a quick scan of the African explorer books below, you'd be forgiven for thinking Africa was log-jammed with Victorians all competing to be the first to reach somewhere by fair means or foul.
When the African explorers returned home, they all wrote books about their hair-raising adventures which were incredibly popular bestsellers with the general public. They were, without doubt, the influential 'celebrities' of their time. Their public spats, discrediting each other's African 'discoveries', made headline news and divided public opinion.
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Boyd Francis Alexander (1873 - 1910) was a British Army officer, explorer and ornithologist.
After travelling for months through African country never before traversed by a white woman, Miss Olive MacLeod has returned to England from the perilous region where a year ago her affianced husband, Captain Boyd Alexander, was killed by savages, and where, five years before, he had buried his brother, Captain Claud Alexander. Read the true story in the 1911 NY Times Archives
There is an interesting observation by W D M Bell in 'Bell Of Africa' about Boyd's skill at presenting a tranquil outward appearance when facing potentially dangerous and murderous natives. Being perfectly cool and preferably, unarmed apparently rather flummoxes them and defuses the situation. Bell put this into practice himself on many occasions but the strategy ultimately failed with Boyd Alexander.
From The Niger To The Nile by Boyd Alexander (1907). Two volumes providing great detail on the people, places and game encountered. Starting in West Africa (Chad and Niger River area) he endeavored to find a way east to the Nile River. He bagged a lion, had many adventures with elephants, rhino, buffalo and plains game. A really exciting as well as respected work of exploration and hunting. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Boyd Alexander's Last Journey by Boyd Alexander (1912) with a memoir by Herbert Alexander. Alexander was exploring in Cameroons, he climbed Mount Kamerun and journeyed on into French Central Africa where he was killed during the wars between the French and the Moslem rulers. Free eBook
Alfred Bertrand (1856 - 1924) was a Swiss army officer who joined an expedition headed by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons to the interior of Barotseland.
The Kingdom of the Barotsi, Upper Zambezia: A Voyage Of Exploration In Africa, Returning By The Victoria Falls, Matabeleland, the Transvaal, Natal And The Cape by Alfred Bertrand (1898) are detailed accounts of the journey taken from the author's diary, with special attention paid to the terrain and natives of the region. Nearing the rivers Machila and Zambesi, the author bagged buffalo, wildebeest and lion. Free eBook
Stirring Adventures In African Travel by Charles Bruce (1890) includes chapters on famous explorers, such as Livingstone, Du Chaillu and Captain Speke. Also chapters on hunting elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros and a chapter describing the shipwreck and captivity of past sailors. Free eBook
Round Africa: Being Some Account Of The Peoples And Places Of The Dark Continent by Charles Bruce (1882) Free eBook
The Book Of Adventure And Peril: A Record Of Heroism And Endurance On Sea And Land by Charles Bruce (1898)
William John Burchell (1781 - 1863) was an English explorer, naturalist, traveller, artist and author. Burchell travelled in South Africa between 1810 and 1815 and his collection of plants, skins, skeletons, insects, seeds, bulbs and fish is considered to be the most extensive ever made in Africa, before or since. After his death by suicide, the bulk of his plant specimens went to Kew and the insects to Oxford University Museum. He is known for the copious and accurate notes he made to accompany every collected specimen, detailing habit and habitat, as well as the numerous drawings and paintings of landscapes, portraits, costumes, people, animals and plants. He was the first to describe the white rhinoceros and several birds are named after him but he is best known for Burchell's zebra, Equus quagga burchelli.
Travels In The Interior Of Southern Africa by William J Burchell (1822-1824). 2 Volumes. This is an account of Burchell's travels in South Africa between 1810 and 1815 making one of the greatest scientific explorations of his day. He collected over 50,000 specimens and covered over 7000 km, much of which was over completely unexplored terrain. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Gaetano Casati (1838 - 1902) was an Italian explorer of Africa. Casati arrived in Africa in 1880 and was the first European to see the Ruwenzori Mountains. He was with Emin Pasha when Henry Morton Stanley arrived in 1888.
Ten Years In Equatoria And The Return With Emin Pasha by Gaetano Casati (1898) is a detailed 2 volume narrative, complete with plates and maps. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
James Chapman (1831 - 1872) was an explorer of southern Africa, hunter, trader and photographer. In 1853 he explored the Zambezi river and almost beat David Livingstone to the Victoria Falls. Chapman was going to accompany Livingstone as a photographer but they had a disagreement and he did not go. By 1854 he had teamed up with Samuel H Edwards and launched an expedition to Lake Ngami. From 1860 to he set out on an expedition with his brother Henry and Thomas Baines to explore the Zambezi from the Victoria Falls down to its delta, to test its navigability. They did reach the Zambesi but did not get to explore the mouth of the river. Chapman's zebra, Equus quagga chapmani, found south of the Zambezi in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, was named after him. In Botswana is a very large tree that goes by the name 'Chapman's Baobab' which he named after himself. It is reputed that other explorers including Selous and Livingstone have camped under this very tree. It is also reputed to be the largest tree in Africa, 25m in girth and between 4000 and 6000 years old.
Travels In The Interior Of South Africa: Comprising Fifteen Years' Hunting And Trading With Journeys Across The Continent From Natal To Walvish Bay, And Visits To Lake Ngami And The Victoria Falls by James Chapman (1868) These volumes embody the results of observations in regions seldom visited. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Robert Ernest Cheesman (1878 - 1962) was HM Consul in North-West Abyssinia from 1925 to 1934 and led a surveying expedition that finally fixed the source and course of the Blue Nile from Lake Tana.
Lake Tana And The Blue Nile: An Abyssinian Quest by Robert E Cheesman (1936) is an account of his expedition to Lake Tana in the course of which he became the first European to visit all the islands on Lake Tana. He also made the first journey from the Lake down the Blue Nile through entirely unexplored country to the furthest point reached by expeditions which had entered Abyssinia from the Sudan.
Modern Exploration, Sport And Travel: A Record Of Adventure, Exploration & Sport In All Parts Of The World, Derived From Personal Accounts By The Explorers, Travellers & Sportsmen by Norman J Davidson (1921)
The Romance Of Missionary Pioneers by Norman J Davidson (1900)
The Romance Of Modern Pathfinders by Norman J Davidson (1925). Interesting descriptions of exploration, adventure & sport in all parts of the world from accounts by the pioneers themselves.
Moffat Of Africa: A Zealous Missionary And A Brave Pioneer by Norman J Davidson (1926) is an account of the life of Robert Moffat (1795 - 1883) who was a Scottish Congregationalist missionary to Africa and father-in-law of David Livingstone.
Modern Travel: A Record Of Exploration, Travel, Adventure And Sport In All Parts Of The World During The Last Forty Years Derived From Personal Accounts From The Travellers by Norman J Davidson (1921) Free eBook
Arthur Donaldson Smith And The Exploration Of Lake Rudolf by Pascal James Imperato (1987)
Ignatius Nicolas Dracopoli (1887 - 1923) was born in France of Italian extraction, educated in England, became a cowboy in Arizona and then set out in 1910 with his brother for his first big game hunting safari in British East Africa.
He had always wanted to be an explorer and on subsequent expeditions to BEA, he mapped the Lorian Swamp region. His expedition met and passed the Edward Bennet safari on the way from Kismayu.
Through Jubaland To The Lorian Swamp: An Adventurous Journey Of Exploration & Sport In The Unknown African Forests & Deserts Of Jubaland To The Unexplored Lorian Swamp by I N Dracopoli (1914) Free eBook
British Sports And Sportsmen: Big Game Hunting And Angling (1914) is a sumptuous compendium of articles which include 'Big Game Hunting in Africa' by F C Selous, 'Elephant Hunting in German East Africa' by James Sutherland. Ignatius Dracopoli contributed Chapter 7 on Sonoran Big Horn and Hunter's Hartebeest.
Ruwenzori: An Account Of The Expedition Of HRH Prince Luigi Amedeo Of Savoy, Duke Of The Abruzzi by Filippo De Filippi (1908). The mountain range of Ruwenzori is believed to be the mythical mountains of the Moon referred to by Ptolemy. Located in central Africa, these snowy mountains drain into the lakes that feed the Nile making them the true source of the great river. Perpetually shrouded in mists, Stanley and other explorers thought, upon first sight of the mountains, that they were simply a trick of the eye. Many explorers had tried to ascend these peaks but had never succeeded. The Duke's expedition was the first to truly explore and document the range after nearly half a century of speculation, setting in place the final piece of the Nile puzzle. This successful expedition climbed all the major mountain peaks. Free eBook
Sir Francis Galton (1822 - 1911) was an English tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist amongst many other talents. In 1845 and 1846 he went to Egypt and travelled down the Nile to Khartoum in the Sudan, and from there to Beirut, Damascus and down the Jordan. In 1850 he joined the Royal Geographical Society, and over the next two years mounted a long and difficult expedition into then little-known South West Africa (now Namibia). He probably is best known for devising a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science.
The Art Of Travel: Or Shifts And Contrivances Available In Wild Countries by Sir Francis Galton (1893) is his bestselling handbook of practical advice for the Victorian on the move.
Major Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1858 - 1916) was an explorer, naturalist and big game hunter. He is best known for his expeditions in the upper Zambezi region and was reputed to be the second person to cross Africa from the Cape to Cairo.
Africa: From South To North Through Marotseland by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1904). 2 Volumes. Captain Gibbons hunted in Barotseland for about ten months and he gives a full description of the regions of the Upper Zambesi, together with an account of the Marotse, Matoka and Mashikolumbwe people. These volume contains many views of the country and of the Victoria Falls, together with illustrations of many hunting scenes. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Exploration And Hunting In Central Africa 1895-96 by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1898) is an account of the author's journey up the Zambesi into Barotseland and into the country of the Marotse. He describes the region, with attention paid to the area around Lake Victoria, Gibbons relates episodes of hunting buffalo, lion, roan, eland, hartebeest and wildebeest in the region. Free eBook
A Record Journey In Savage Africa by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1901) is a three part article of an account of a journey from the North to the South and the East to the West of Africa in more than 2 years and 20,000 miles.
British East African Plateau: Land And Its Economic Conditions by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1906) is a Royal Geographic Journal article.
A Journey In The Marotse And Mashikolumbwe Countries by Alfred St.Hill Gibbons (1897) is a Royal Geographic Journal article.
James Augustus Grant (1827 - 1892) was a Scottish explorer of eastern equatorial Africa. In 1860 he joined John Speke in the expedition which solved the problem of the Nile source. Speke was the leader, but Grant carried out several investigations independently and made valuable botanical collections.
A Walk Across Africa: Or Domestic Scenes From My Nile Journal by J A Grant (1864) was published, as supplementary to Speke's account of their journey. Grant deals particularly with "the ordinary life and pursuits, the habits and feelings of the natives" and the economic value of the countries traversed. Free eBook
John Walter Gregory (1864 - 1932) was a British geologist and explorer, known principally for his work on geology of Australia and East Africa. In 1887 he became an assistant in the geological department of the Natural History Museum, London.
The Great Rift Valley: Being The Narrative Of A Journey To Mount Kenya And Lake Baringo by J W Gregory (1896) is an account of an expedition undertaken in 1892-93 into the eastern part of what was then known as British East Africa and a comprehehsive natural history of the area, written when very little was known about the area. Free eBook
Ewart Scott Grogan (1874 - 1967) was a British explorer, politician, entrepreneur and the first person to walk the length of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo in 1899. His brother Quentin, was Roosevelt's white hunter on the Lado Enclave leg of the safari.
During the Matabele War Grogan had walked the first leg from Cape Town to Beira, Rhodesia. Two years later, Arthur Henry Sharp accompanied Grogan to Beira and in February 1898 they started the 4,000-mile second leg to Cairo. At Lake Ruisamba, later named Lake George, Sharp finished the walk and returned home.
Grogan's own interesting account of the trip is to be found in the New York Times
From The Cape To Cairo: The First Traverse Of Africa From South To North by Ewart Grogan & Arthur H Sharp (1900) is a highly regarded and important work of travel and adventure throughout Africa. The men trekked on foot from the Cape to Cairo in order to prove that Africa could be traversed by rail. Free eBook
The Discovery Of The Nile by Gianni Guadalupi (1997). It was not until the middle of the 19th century, after centuries of being the world's greatest geographic enigma, that the mystery of the Nile was solved through the efforts of British explorers Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke, James Augustus Grant and Samuel Baker White. This lavish volume tells their stories and those of other adventurers.
Captain Cecil Walter Inglefield Wightwick Haywood (b.1876) was the district commissioner of Jubaland (at the time part of BEA, now Somalia) and was asked to undertake an expedition from Kismayu to the Lorian Swamp to find a route to link to the Nyeri-Nairobi route in 1912.
To The Mysterious Lorian Swamp: An Adventurous & Arduous Journey Of Exploration Through The Vast Waterless Tracts Of Unknown Jubaland by C Wightwick Haywood (1927) is a exciting account of his journey which included being charged by lion. Ignatius Dracopoli's expedition followed Haywood's from Jubaland to Lorian Swamp keeping on the bank of Laka Dera.
The Bajun Islands And Birikau: A Visit By The Then British Political Officer Responsible For The Administration Of Jubaland by C Wightwick Haywood (1935) is a Royal Goegraphical Society Journal article.
Joel Tyler Headley (1813 - 1897) was an American clergyman, historian, author, newspaper editor and politician who served as Secretary of State of New York.
Great Explorations In The Wilds Of Africa by Joel Tyler Headley (1886) 'including Sir Samuel Baker's expedition with a force of nearly two thousand men to suppress the slave trade; Lieut. Cameron's Across Africa, with these travelers' marvelous accounts of fighting the natives, hunting the hippopotamus, elephant and lion, and Henry M Stanley's story of his last and greatest work and explorations in organizing and bringing into the family of nations the Congo Free State, with a graphic account of Chinese Gordon in Africa.' Free eBook
The Exploration Of Africa: From Cairo To The Cape by Anne Hugon (1993). Burton, Speke, Grant, Baker, Kingsley - in the space of barely fifty years these extraordinary men and women travelled to the sources of the Nile and tracked the course of the Congo and Zambezi. Yet their achievements led to commercial exploitation and ruthless colonization. Here are physical horrors endured, euphoric success and the dramatic consequences of a momentous meeting of cultures.
Richard Jobson was a 17th century English explorer who in 1620 sailed to Guinea, west Africa and travelled 400 miles up the Gambia River to trade for gold.
The Golden Trade Or A Discovery Of The River Gambra, And The Golden Trade Of The Aethiopians by Richard Jobson (1623) (First reprint edition 1904). It is one of the earliest English protests against the African slave trade. Jobson provides a fascinating description of the life and manners of the West African native peoples. He relates the story of the second voyage to the Gambia undertaken for 'The Company of Adventurers of Africa Trading into Africa', under a charter granted by King James I in 1618. It is a remarkably detailed description of African culture, living conditions and rituals at a time when the interior was largely unknown. This is probably the first separate English account of a travel to the interior of Africa.
Dr Wilhem Junker (1840 - 1892) charted the course of the Congo and its tributaries during his decade in Central Africa. Born of German parents in Moscow, he was influenced in his desire to explore Africa by Schweinfurth who drew his attention to the lands south of the Libyan desert, still shrouded in the veil of mystery. His fascination with the region led him to make three expeditions over a period of eleven years and he is recognised as one of the great African explorers. Junker remained almost continuously in eastern Equatorial Africa from 1875 to 1886, making first Khartoum and afterwards Lado the base of his expeditions. Junker was a leisurely traveller and a careful observer; his main object was the study the peoples with whom he came into contact and to collect specimens of plants and animals. Perhaps the greatest service he rendered to geographical science was his investigation of the Nile-Congo watershed, when he successfully debunked Georg Schweinfurth's hydrographical theories and established the identity of the Welle and Ubangi rivers.
Travels In Africa During The Years 1875-1878 [And] 1879-1883 [And] 1882-1886 by Dr Wilhelm Junker (1890 to 1892) Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook Vol III Free eBook
Theo Kassner was a geologist and explorer and the purpose of his journey was to prospect the area through which the Cape to Cairo railway was to run.
Gold Seeking In South Africa: A Handbook Of Hints For Intending Explorers, Prospectors And Settlers by Theo Kassner (1902) is a textbook of practical prospecting in South Africa. The book is quite rare as it was a standard work used by practical miners and prospectors and thus few survived the rigours of daily use. Free eBook
Adolf Friedrich Albrecht Heinrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, (1873 - 1969) was a German explorer in Africa, the elected Duke of the United Baltic Duchy and the first president of the National Olympic Committee of Germany.
In The Heart Of Africa by Adolphus Frederick, Duke Of Mecklenburg (1910) is about a scientific expedition to Central Africa in 1907-1908 ending by crossing the continent via the Congo river. Much on the native peoples encountered, still untouched by contact with Europeans and missionaries, landscapes and big game hunting. Translated by G E Maberly-Oppler. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook Vol III Free eBook
From The Congo To The Niger And The Nile: An Account Of The German Central African Expedition 1910-1911 by Adolphus Frederick, Duke Of Mecklenburg (1913). Exploring the country bordering the Congo and Utangi Rivers, between Lakes Victoria and Livu, the basins of Gubingi and Shari Rivers and Lake Chad regions. Also extensive travel through the Cameroons and Nigeria as well as part of Sudan. Much elephant hunting throughout, plus buffalo, rhino and other game. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Hans Heinrich Josef Meyer (1858 - 1929) was a German geologist who is credited with being the first European to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
Across East African Glaciers: An Account Of The First Ascent Of Kilimanjaro Dr Hans Meyer (1891) documents the first undisputed ascent of Kibo Peak, the the higher of the two peaks of Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa. This was Meyer's third attempt on the mountain, two previous attempts in 1887 and 1888 having been unsuccessful. The present attempt was made in 1889 with a well-equipped support team and in the company of the mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller and the painter Ernst Platz. The epic ascent took three days, during which time many hardships were overcome. Several scientific observations were carried out and the massif was mapped for the first time.
Eduard Mohr (1828 - 1876) was the first German explorer to reach the Victoria Falls, in 1870, 15 years after Livingstone. A competent botanist, entomologist, zoologist and mapmaker, his book is a classic of Victorian travel in Southern Africa. As a sportsman, Mohr travelled to the Victoria Falls partly for the sake of hunting, partly in the hope of making geographical discoveries.
To The Victoria Falls Of The Zambesi by Eduard Mohr (1876) As a sportsman, Mohr travelled to the Victoria Falls partly for the sake of hunting, partly in the hope of making geographical discoveries. After landing at Cape Town, he and his companions ventured into the interior, crossing the Tugela River and enjoying a wide variety of sport.
The Explorers: From The Ancient World Until The Present by Paolo Novaresio (1996) includes numerous stories of amazing explorers and their extraordinary voyages of discovery - from Alexander the Great to the Apollo Moon landings.
Dr Karl Peters (1856 - 1918) was a German explorer, journalist and philosopher. He was instrumental in the founding of German East Africa and helped create the European "Scramble for Africa".
New Light On Dark Africa by Karl Peters (1891) is the German counterpart to Stanley's 'In Darkest Africa' - a German Emin Pasha expedition. This represents Peter's journey to find Emin Pasha on the Upper Nile, but approaching from Africa's east coast. Peters followed Pigott in exploring the Tana river and gained notoriety by his political activities to secure influence in the interior. This roused the British, in an effort to counteract his activities, to explore both Kenya Colony and Uganda. Free eBook
Robert I Rotberg is President of the World Peace Foundation and academic in political science and history. Among the many books he wrote are some about African exploration.
Joseph Thomson And The Exploration Of Africa by Robert I Rotberg (1971) is the first full biography about Joseph Thomson. Towards the end of the era of African exploration Joseph Thomson was active in a surprising number of geographical areas such Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and the Congo. He opened trade routes, made maps and wrote books but died at the age of 37. The appendices show Thomson's outfit and expenses, a list of all the porters and copies of the original treaties made by Thomson on behalf of the British South Africa Company. Thompson's articles and books are listed.
Africa And It's Explorers: Motives, Methods And Impact by Robert I Rotberg (1970) follows the careers of Heinrich Barth, David Livingstone, Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke, Samuel White Baker, Gerhard Rohlfs, Henry Morton Stanley, Verney Loveltt Cameron and Joseph Thomson.
Dr Georg August Schweinfurth (1836 - 1925) was born in Latvia of German parentage. He was a distinguished botanist, scholar and African explorer. He made three journeys in the Sudan to collect plant specimens.
The Heart Of Africa: Three Years Travels And Adventures In The Unexplored Regions Of Central Africa From 1868 To 1871 by Dr G Schweinfurth (1873) is an account of his second expedition when he explored the hydrology of the Bhar el Ghazal and the forests of the Nile - Congo area. A true classic of African exploration in two volumes. Vol I Free eBook Vol II Free eBook
Emin Pasha In Central Africa: Being A Collection Of His Letters And Journals Edited & Annotated by Dr G Schweinfurth et al (1888). Emin Pasha (1840-1892) was born Eduard Schnitzer and served under General Charles Gordon in Sudan as a district medical officer. In 1878 he succeeded Gordon as governor of Equatoria, the southernmost province of the Egyptian Sudan. In 1885 he was cut off from the outside world by the Mahdist uprising, and several European explorers, including Henry Morton Stanley, were sent to rescue him. Although his position was not desperate, he finally agreed to accompany Stanley to Mombasa. He was murdered while engaged in exploration for Germany in the region of Lake Tanganyika. Free eBook
The African Adventure: Four Hundred Years Of Exploration In The Dangerous Continent by Timothy Severin (1973) is a comprehensive and entertaining survey of the exploration of Africa from its earliest days to the heyday of Livingstone, Burton et al.
Captain James Kingston Tuckey (1776 - 1816) was an Irish-born British explorer and a captain in the Royal Navy. He led an official British expedition to explore the Congo river in 1816. Voyaging in his specially designed ship 'Congo', together with its supply vessel the 'Dorothy', Tuckey travelled deep into unexplored central Africa, until a combination of impassable cataracts and fever in him and his crew forced him to turn back. He died soon afterwards from hepatitis and general exhaustion.
Narrative Of An Expedition To Explore The River Zaire, Usually Called The Congo, In 1816 by James K Tuckey (1918) is composed of Tuckey's expedition journal, together with notes on the people they encountered and on the flora and fauna of the regions they traversed made by Professor Smith, the expedition's scientific advisor. The notes include observations on tribal customs, the slave trade and a vocabulary of the languages of the Malemba and Embomma tribes. Free eBook
Ludwig Von Hohnel (1857 - 1942) was an Austrian naval officer and explorer. He was part of the Count Teleki expedition to Northern Kenya in 1887-1888 and were the first Europeans to see Lake Turkana, which they named Lake Rudolf. Von Hohnel also explored the area around Mount Kilimanjaro in 1892 with American magnate William Astor Chanler. They also explored the north-eastern part of the Mount Kenya massif and the Guaso Nyiro river where he was gored by a rhinoceros.
Discovery Of Lakes Rudolph And Stefanie by Ludwig von Hohnel (1888). Adventures of this important expedition are interesting not only because Teleki discovered two new major African lakes but also to sportsmen because the purpose of this trip was also to hunt for African big game. His favourites were elephant and black rhinoceros. He endeavored to find new haunts for game in previously unexplored areas. An African classic. Free eBook
Two African explorers, Stanislaus Laurello and Hans Downe, travel round Africa, on a detour from Los Angeles to Hollywood, trying to capture and photograph animals, but have more encounters than they had hoped for. Some animals encountered are bears, emu's, an elephant and a family of lions. Directed by Ralph Ceder and starring Stan Laurel, James Finlayson and Katherine Grant. Silent film with musical sound track.