Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The death of John Hanning Speke

A new book reappraises 19th-century explorer John Hanning Speke's place in history. During his life, Speke's claim to have the found the Nile source was challenged and his achievements were diminished by fellow traveller Sir Richard Burton, who described him as a "deluded nonentity" - a view repeated by successive biographers. However, Tim Jeal reveals a very different man in Explorers of the Nile, someone who he believes should be in the pantheon of the world's greatest explorers. Read more about it in an Observer article and a piece by Jeal.

Speke's theory that Lake Victoria was the source of Nile was rejected by Burton, thus beginning a bitter public dispute between the two men. On September 15 1864, shortly before Speke and Burton were to debate the subject publicly, Speke was killed by his own gun while hunting. It remains uncertain whether it was an accident or suicide. It was a sad end to an eventful life, as shown in this Manchester Guardian news item from September 19 1864:

1 comment:

  1. John Hanning Speke - Extremely Rare Drawings from his African Adventures - Pencil Drawings by Illustrator Z.B. Zwecker 1860's.
    Here’s what can be understood and reads;
    Drawing of Buffalo head and tusks, written; “Young D. – Shot by C. Speke”. [Captain Speke].

    Drawing of long antlers with; 7 ½ “ - 27”, - written in between.

    Drawing of buffalos head and tusks, - with measurements written; “2’ – 4 ¼ “.

    “Ookereema, The Sultan of Ukiney” [?] - Sketch of the king in tribal dress.

    Two sketches of village layouts; “The Sultan of Ukirney” [?] and; “M--?--- Vill, Ukirney “[?].

    “Music Band W’soombwah” –sketch of natives drumming.

    Sketches of nine tribesmen heads, - with unreadable text; “Burber , Kirangola, Soldier, W’Kings, taken in Ukirney, “Wasoombwah”. - Three small sketches of native sitting aiming bow and arrow, female head, female standing; “Wasoombwah”. - “Traveller with Calabar of beer..., Women selling Plantain..., Gold...” - pencil line pointing to the gold bangles on the women’s wrist. – “Grain worked and Banana Leaves...”– “Gold...” - pencil line pointing to the gold bangles on the women’s wrist. – “Natives of Usini “ - [Tanzania], – “Women with grain....”.