BURTON, Richard

(1821 - 1890)
“Travellers like poets are mostly an angry race”

An explorer, diplomat, spy, swordsman, snake-handler, linguist (he spoke 29 languages by his mid 30s), and practicing yogi, Burton was fortunately also able to write well and though his pen was probably not mightier than his sword, it was a close second enabling him to author over 40 books on his exploits.

Burton joined the East India Company in 1842 and spent the next seven years as a captain stationed in India and later Sindh, Pakistan, which he wrote about extensively.  After leaving the Company he undertook several challenging expeditions, including to Mecca, Harrar and Lake Tanganyika whereby he could “prove, by trial that what might be perilous to other travelers was safe to me.”

Although frequently controversial, (known as “Ruffian Burton” at  Trinity, Oxford) he was also extraordinary, his obituary in The Times commenting that he was “one of the most remarkable men of his time”. When needing to replenish his coffers in 1885 he wrote a translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, in which he included all the original gory and often bawdy detail left out of other translations.

Burton died of a heart attack in 1890 at the age of 69, but was acknowledged for his explorations and writing by being made Knight Commander in 1886.


Add to favourites
 Richard BURTON

Books by this author

First Footsteps in East Africa

BURTON, Richard


Goa and the Blue Mountains

BURTON, Richard


Sind Revisited:

BURTON, Richard