Who were the explorers who explored all parts of the world in the nineteenth century?
Who were the explorers who explored all parts of the world in the nineteenth century? The Victorian explorers who went to Africa helped to create new ways of seeing the world for the British public beyond Britain and Europe and played an important part in the history of empire making. These Victorian travellers included men such as David Livingstone and women such as Mary Kingsley.
Many African people also travelled in Africa, and many travelled with the European explorers. Their local knowledge was an important contribution to the Victorian's geographical understanding of the continent. Amongst the African travellers were Samuel Crowther, an Anglican missionary who was involved in expeditions to the River Niger; James Chuma, Abdullah Susi, Matthew Wellington and Jacob Wainwright who all travelled with David Livingstone.
David Livingstone was one of the most famous Victorian explorers in his own lifetime. His beginnings from working in a factory as a child to famous explorer made him a national hero. His book was a bestseller, even though he failed as a missionary, converting only one African to Christianity and on his last journey, he believed that he had found the source of the River Nile, when in fact he was on the upper Congo.
Some historians have argued that it was not so much what he did but what he came to represent that made him so important to people in Victorian Britain and to the story of the British Empire.
So what was his story, how did he become so famous and how is he viewed today?
What were David Livingstone's motives?
What is David Livingstone's story?
What was the Zambezi expedition and how do its stories get retold?
Who were the Africans who travelled with Livingstone and what do we know about them?
What was exploration like in Victorian Britain?
An education pack exploring the stories of Africa's forgotten explorers and their contributions to mapping the continent has been developed. The pack called Stories from East Africa contains activities for students from the ages of eight to 12.
RGS-IBG's exhibition Bombay Africans: 1850 to 1910 follows the stories of the Bombay Africans; a group of Africans that accompanied British explorers such as Burton, Speke and Livingstone on expeditions in Africa. The exhibition reveals their contributions and legacies, and the important role they played on expeditions.
BBC World Service African History: African historians tell the story of Africa from an African perspective. Includes information on European explorers and black explorers.
Learning Curve British Empire: background information, activities on studying sources and an online exhibition from the National Archives.
Livingstone Online: Education resources for 9-13 year olds based on Livingstone's letters and diaries.
This theme was written with support from Professor Felix Driver and Dr Carolyn Bressay.
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