Sir Richard Francis Burton, 1821-1890


Biographical note

Explorer and scholar, son of an officer in the army, was born at Barham House, Herts, and after a somewhat desultory education abroad as well as at home, entered upon a life of travel, adventure, and military and civil service in almost every quarter of the world, including India, Africa, the nearer East, and North and South America, in the course of which he mastered 35 languages. As an official his masterful ways and spirit of adventure frequently brought him into collision with superior powers, by whom he not seldom considered himself ill-used. He was the author of upwards of 50 books on a great variety of subjects, including travels, novels, and translations, among which are Personal Narrative of a Journey to Mecca [1855], First Footprints in East Africa [1856], Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa [1860], The Nile Basin, a translation and life of Camoens, an absolutely literal translation of the Arabian Nights, with notes and commentaries, of which his accomplished wife published an expurgated edition. Lady B., who was the companion of his travels after 1861, also wrote books on Syria, Arabia, and other eastern countries, as well as a life of her husband, a number of whose manuscripts she destroyed.

[From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John W. Cousin, 1910]

See also . . .


Travel and exploration


Other works

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