Burton, Richard Francis, Sir, 1821-1890

Alternative names
Birth 1821-03-19
Death 1890-10-20

Biographical notes:

Epithet: explorer

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001030.0x00032a

Sir Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, adventurer, athlete, author, scientist, diplomat, and one of the preeminent linguists and translators of the 19th century. His legendary exploits include being the first European to describe Mecca after exploring the city in disguise, and several expeditions in unexplored Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Extremely accomplished, he was also a controversial personality, and his descriptions of sexual mores in primitive tribes were notorious in his day.

From the description of Richard Francis Burton letter to Gerald Massey, 1881 May 3. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 52999944

English explorer and author.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Trieste, to an unidentified correspondent, 1874 Apr. 2. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270131802

British explorer and scholar.

From the description of Letters : from Sir Richard Francis Burton and Lady Burton, to Alexander Wheelock Thayer, 1885-1895. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 14398296

English explorer, author, and linguist.

From the description of Papers, 1855-1890. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122653090

Richard Francis Burton was born March 19, 1821, at Torquay; he was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, but did not take a degree. He became a noted linguist, writer, translator and explorer; he is probably best known for his translations of the works of The Arabian Nights and The Kama Sutra..., as well as his travels in Africa, the Middle East, South America and Iceland. Isabel Arundell was born March 20, 1831, in London, of an old, established Roman Catholic family. In 1861, after an eleven-year courtship, Richard and Isabel were married, and from that time she accompanied Burton on his travels, and became his amanuensis and editor. Isabel Burton also used her family connections to help further Burton's career in the Foreign Office. Besides serving as Burton's editor, Isabel published a number of works, mainly travel volumes and an autobiography. Burton was given his final consulate at Trieste in 1873, and was knighted in 1886; after years of ill-health, he suffered a heart attack and died on October 19, 1890. Isabel Burton returned to England to oversee the literary estate of her husband; she died on March 22, 1896, from complications of ovarian cancer.

Edwards Huntington Metcalf , grandson of Henry E. Huntington. An avid collector, Edwards H. Metcalf served on the Board of Overseers of the Huntington Library from 1978 until his death in 2001.

From the description of Papers of Sir Richard Francis Burton, 1846-2003 (bulk 1846-1939) (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 228769785

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was a 19th century British explorer, translator, Orientalist, author, linguist, poet and translator of The Arabian nights.

Born in Devon, England, Burton's early education was largely from tutors due to his family's habit of extensive and frequent travel. He went to Trinity College, Oxford in 1840; upon his expulsion in 1842 he traveled to India, where he began his lifelong study of Eastern languages, societies and customs. The following years were filled with travel and adventure, including a pilgrimage to Mecca for which Burton disguised himself as a native, an exploit which made him famous. In the 1850s he explored the interior of Somali land and made an expedition to the sources of the Nile. In 1861 he married Isabel Arundell (1831-1896) and shortly thereafter entered the British foreign service and was consul in Fernando Po, Brazil, Damascus and Trieste. In his later years Burton produced many travel books as well as translations of The Arabian Nights and an edition of the Kama Sutra in English.

From the guide to the Richard Francis Burton Papers, 1855-1891, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)


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