FIRST FOOTSTEPS IN EAST AFRICA or, An Exploration of Harar.

FIRST FOOTSTEPS IN EAST AFRICA or, An Exploration of Harar.

(London: Tylston and Edwards, 1894).

AN IMPORTANT BURTON PRINTING and a very important edition of this primary text, created by Isabel Burton in honour of her husband’s expansive work and extended oeuvre. Ms Burton had hoped to continue on with the project, publishing many more of Burton’s writings, but the seven volumes which she did publish were the only ones ever printed. This is a fine set of the scarce Memorial issue of one of Burton’s most important books. Not only did the printing include the full text of the original, but also the original illustrations.
FIRST FOOTSTEPS IN EAST AFRICA is a seminal work of Africana recording Burton's first expedition into Somalia. His purpose was to explore the forbidden Moslem city of Harar, "a city whose walls no European had ever penetrated," as well as to gather information about the headwaters of the Nile. He travelled in the same disguise that took him to Mecca, as Haji Mirza Abdullah, an Arab merchant.
It was on this expedition that Burton was first joined by John Speke, at the suggestion of James Outram. Speke originally abetted Burton's plans in Somalia, but differences quickly arose between the two, and Speke over the years became Burton's great nemesis, taking credit for discovering the Nile and deprecating Burton's efforts in every sphere.
On this journey, despite the success of the primary objective, Lieut. Stroyan died and Burton received the famous spear wound to his face during an attack by Somalis while encamped on the beach at Berberah.
Burton’s intellectual influence is far-reaching. His amazing grasp of languages and culture anticipates the globalism of the future. His geographical discoveries not only make him an interesting historical figure but also allowed for future exploration. The detail with which he wrote and his willingness to examine intimate aspects of daily life were precursors to modern ethnography. And his understanding and willingness to immerse himself in cultures that are still little understood by those in Western nation-states is enlightening on many levels. He was the first European to enter Mecca, first to explore Somaliland, and first to discover the great lakes of Central Africa. A prolific writer, he published 43 volumes on exploration and travel, two volumes of poetry, over a hundred articles and 143 pages of autobiography. He translated sixteen volumes of The Arabian Nights, six volumes of Portuguese literature, two volumes of Latin poetry, and four volumes of folklore (Neapolitan, African and Hindu). His occupations included; soldier, writer, explorer, foreign emissary, translator and linguist, sword fighter, ethnographer and archaeologist. Item #21877

2 volumes. First Edition thus and first issue of the Memorial Edition. With coloured lithographic frontispieces, maps and illustrations, some full-page and in colour throughout the work, as in the first edition. 8vo, publisher’s original black polished cloth lettered in gilt on the spines. xxxiv, (ii), 209; (x), 276, (4) pp. A very handsome set, well preserved, bright and clean with some minimal wear or light evidence of age at the head-caps or outer joints. The cloth is in good order, the hinges strong, the binding tight, the text-block clean.

Price: $595.00