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John Hanning Speke Books

John Hanning Speke (1827 - 1864) was an officer in the British Indian army, who made three voyages of exploration to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile. The Speke's gazelle, Gazella spekei and sitatunga, Tragelaphus spekii, are named after him.

John Speke
John Speke

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Journal Of The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile

Journal Of The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile by John Hanning Speke (1863). The appendix contains a list of the plants collected by Captain Grant between Zanzibar and Cairo, also a list of men, their duties and pay during the expedition. Free eBook

What Led To The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile

What Led To The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile by John Hanning Speke (1864) is composed of two parts, the 'Journal of Adventures in Somali Land' and the 'Journal of a Cruise on the Tanganyika Lake.' Speke had developed the idea to explore Central Africa alone with a view to collecting hitherto unknown species of fauna. It as then suggested that Speke join Richard Burton's expedition, which he did. It was during this expedition that Speke claimed to have discovered the true source of the Nile, but Burton and his associate, James Macqueen, immediately disputed his claims. Speke was granted command of a second expedition in 1860 to explore the Victoria Nyanza and verify his earlier findings. In the years 1863 and 1864 Speke published, respectively 'Journal Of The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile' which actually covers his second expedition, with James Grant. This book, 'What Led To The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile' narrates his first journey in the company of Burton. Free eBook

Lake Victoria: A Narrative Of Explorations In Search Of The Source Of The Nile by George Carless Swayne(1868) is compiled from the memoirs of John Hanning Speke and James Augustus Grant. Free eBook

First Footsteps In East Africa: Or An Exploration Of Harar by Sir Richard Burton & J H Speke(1856) is the account of Burton's first expedition to explore the interior of the Somali country and particularly the forbidden city of Harar, which no European was thought to have seen. Free eBook

Books About John H Speke:

Alexander Maitland


Speke by Alexander Maitland (1971) is a biography about J H Speke. Speke's great achievement was the discovery in 1862 of the main source of the White Nile in Lake Victoria, Nyanza. He also was a member of Sir Richard Burton's abortive expedition to Somaliland.

Candice Millard

River Of The Gods

River Of The Gods by Candice Millard (2022) is an account of the quest by Richard Burton and John Speke to solve the geographic riddle of their era - the location of the source of the Nile river. At the time, European countries were sending out lots of explorations intended to map the unknown areas of the globe and extend their colonial empires. Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke were sent by the Royal Geographical Society to explore new territory for England.

Burton was a mercurial character who spoke 29 languages and was a decorated soldier. Speke was a young aristocrat and Army officer determined to make his mark and passionate about hunting. They were complete opposites in temperament and beliefs and from the start of the expedition, the two men clashed. Two years into the journey, deep in the African interior, Burton became too sick to carry on, but Speke did and claimed he found the source of the Nile at the great lake that he named Lake Victoria.

When they returned to England, Speke rushed to take credit for finding the Nile source, disparaging Burton. Burton disputed his claim and Speke launched another expedition to Africa to prove it. The two became enemies, with the public siding with the more charismatic Burton. The day before they were to publicly debate, Speke shot himself.

The author also adds the story of one of the native expedition guides, without whom, she believes neither explorer would have come close to the headwaters of the Nile, or perhaps even survived.

William Harrison

Burton And Speke

Burton And Speke by William Harrison (1982) is a historical novel based on the lives of Victorian explorers Sir Richard Burton and John Speke and their search for the source of the Nile in Africa.

Clare Lloyd

The Travelling Naturalists

The Travelling Naturalists by Clare Lloyd (1985) is a study of the lives and adventures of eight of the nineteenth century's travelling naturalists including Charles Waterton, John Hanning Speke, Henry Seebohm and Mary Kingsley.

E A Loftus

Colonel Ernest Achey Loftus, CBE (1884 - 1987) was a soldier, teacher and diarist. At the age of 70, having retired from teaching in the UK, he took up several posts abroad, as Education Officer in Kenya, Nyasaland and Zambia. He was made Companion of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to African education.

The Travelling Naturalists

Speke And The Nile Source by E A Loftus (1954) is a compact biography of explorer John Hanning Speke.

George C Swayne

George Carless Swayne 1818-1892 was a British author who was related to big game hunter Colonel Harold G Swayne and Somaliland lady traveller Frances Louisa Swayne.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria: A Narrative Of Explorations In search Of The Source Of The Nile by George C Swayne (1868) was compiled from the memoirs of Captain Speke and Captain Grant. The book may have been written to popularize the books of Speke and Grant and to introduce them to the general reader. Free eBook

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