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Item #BB1968 [Original Cloth] Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. John Hanning SPEKE.
[Original Cloth] Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile
[Original Cloth] Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile

[Original Cloth] Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1864. Original Cloth. First American Edition of this controversial account, but an "absolutely vital source of evidence on the history of east Africa in the nineteenth century." (ODNB) Thick demy 8vo (233 x 140mm): xxx,31-590,[6]pp. with tissue-guarded photogravure portraits of Speke (frontispiece) and James Grant, 24 further full-page plates, 46 engraved text illustrations, and two maps colored in outline (one folding). Publisher's brown textured cloth, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, pink end papers. Light scattered (mostly marginal) spotting, but superbly preserved in original cloth, an excellent example, tightly bound and general clean throughout. Gay 2735. Howgego IV S54. Hosken p. 188. Near Fine+. Item #BB1968

First published the previous year, in Edinburgh and London. In 1855, Speke joined an expedition to east Africa hoping solve to the greatest geographical puzzle of the Victorian age: Where did the Nile, the world’s longest river, rise? The expedition, commanded by Richard Burton, reached Lake Tanganyika in February, 1858. No boat large enough to survey the lake properly could be secured, thus leaving scope for Burton's later claim that Lake Tanganyika was the true source of the Nile. After Burton fell ill, Speke made a trip northward to another lake, reaching the southern tip of what he christened Lake Victoria on August 3,1858. He immediately decided that this lake must be the source of the Nile. Burton disagreed, and their argument over which of the two lakes was the true source was compounded when Speke returned to England before Burton, in May, 1859, and made his Nile claims public, publishing an account of the expedition in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Burton was outraged. In 1860, the Royal Geographical Society funded Speke's return to Africa to confirm his thesis. Eventually, on July 28, 1862, Speke reached the point where the Nile issues from Lake Victoria, which he named Ripon Falls. Unfortunately, Speke's companion, James Grant, suffering from an ulcerated leg, had returned northward, so the discovery was unverified; nor did the party follow the Nile stream closely as it traveled north to Bunyoro, allowing critics to question whether Speke's river really was the Nile. On his return to London, Speke came under fire, not least from Burton, and the British Association arranged a public debate to be held in Bath on September 16, 1864. Speke was found dead the previous day, apparently killed in a hunting accident. It was not until some twelve years later that the work of H. M. Stanley and others confirmed that Speke was right about Lake Victoria and the Nile. But the circumstances of his death, his dispute with Burton, and his slapdash record-keeping conspired to deny Speke the prominence of Stanley, Burton, and Livingstone. Still, "he was a great discoverer whose achievement was a landmark in the systemization of knowledge about the world. The source of the Nile itself became a great focus for European strategic interests twenty-five years after his visit . . . More generally, Speke's accounts of his expeditions remain absolutely vital sources of evidence on the history of east Africa in the nineteenth century." (ODNB) N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).

Price: $465.00

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