Sir Richard Francis Burton – What A Man, What A Life.


Recently read ‘The Devil Drives’ again after first reading it a few years ago.

What. A. Life.

Soldier, explorer, linguist, ethnologist, and controversialist. Mostly self-educated, he mastered half a dozen Eastern languages after joining the Army of the East India Company in 1842, and produced ground-breaking ethnological studies of Sindh in the early 1850s. He then completed a famous pilgrimage to Mecca, in 1853, disguised as a Pathan; became the first European to visit the forbidden city of Harrar in 1855; served with Beatson’s Horse in the Crimea in 1855; led the expedition to East Africa that in 1858 discovered Lake Tanganyika and, through his deputy John Hanning Speke, the headwaters of the Nile, Lake Victoria Nyanza. After ascending the Cameroons Mountains in 1862, he led a notable mission to the King of Dahomey in 1863; rafted down the Rio São Francisco in Brazil in 1867; collaborated in the publication of the Kama Sutraand Ananga Ranga; and in the 1880s translated the poetry of Camoens from Portuguese, and the first unexpurgated 1000 Nights and a Night from Arabic. He wrote over 80 books, from travel and exploration to anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, poetry and Eastern Literature…….. Go to

The Fourth Burton Conference will be held in March 2021, at Torquay, his birthplace. This coincides with the 200th anniversary of his birth. Contact Mick Walton to submit an abstract, or to obtain further details.

In this series of five videos actor and writer Rupert Everett takes a revealing and witty journey retracing the steps of one of his great heroes — the infamous Victorian explorer and sexual whirlwind, Sir Richard Burton. This is 1/5:

Love skills , exploration and a very big moustache with the 19th century’s busiest man – Richard Francis Burton

Richard and Isabel Burton are buried in Saint Mary’s Churchyard, Mortlake, near Richmond outside London. The tomb is in the shape of an Arab tent.


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