National Treasure: Sir Richard Francis Burton - Duerr's

National Treasure: Sir Richard Francis Burton

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (1821 –1890)

A man considered to be one of the most fascinating Englishmen of the Victorian era.

Writer, explorer, ferocious soldier, spy, diplomat, geographer, linguist (Speaking 29 languages!)…The list goes on.

Best known for his journey to Mecca in 1853, disguised as an Arab, having immersed himself in the Arab way of life (Even to the point of getting himself circumcised!)

Burton went on to explore large parts of Africa, and was the first European to set eyes on lake Tanganyika, eventually discovering the source of the Nile.

Once on his expedition to Somalia, his group was attacked by a group of Somali warriors, and Burton received a spear wound, piercing one cheek, and exiting the other, leaving him with a noticeable scar, easily seen in his subsequent portraits.

Some of Burton’s writings were considered risqué at the time, these include translations of the Karma sutra of Vatsyayana, and The Arabian Knights.

In 1869 he was made consul in Damascus, and four years later became the Consul in Trieste.

Burton died in Trieste 20 October 1890 of a heart attack, and is entombed in Mortlake, in Surrey.


Today’s moment has been brought to you by Duerr’s fan Colin Macpherson.

Image Credit: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL


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