Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

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Credit: DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: 19th century Calotype of Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS, English 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; 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. He wrote over 80 books, from travel and exploration to anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, poetry and Eastern Literature including the first unexpurgated 1000 Nights and a Night from Arabic.

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