Sir Richard Burton
Sir Richard Burton
Sir Richard Francis Burton (19 March 1821-20 October 1890) was a researcher, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, swordsman and British diplomat. He was known for his travels and research in Asia, Africa and America as well as for his exceptional knowledge of languages and cultures. He knew 29 European, Asian and African languages.
Burton’s most famous achievements include A hidden and well-documented journey to Mecca at a time when Europeans were denied access for fear of death; the translation of Arabian Nights (commonly known as Arabian Nights, after the first translations of the French version by Antoine Galland); Publication of the source of the Kamasutra in English; translation of the journey into the fragrant garden, the Arabic Kamasutra, in search of John the Great Lake in Africa; and translation of “The Road of the Arab Kama in Africa”.
His writings and letters were highly critical of British colonial policy, also at the expense of his career. Although he left university, he became a productive and learned author and wrote many books and scientific articles on subjects such as human behaviour, travel, falconry, fencing, sexual practices and ethnography. His books are marked by numerous footnotes and appendices with remarkable notes and information.
Burton served as captain in the army of the East India Company, served in India, then briefly during the Crimean War. He was then commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society to explore the east coast of Africa, where he led a locally led expedition and was the first European to see Lake Tanganyika. Later he was British Consul in Fernando Po (now Bioko, Equatorial Guinea), Santos in Brazil, Damascus (Ottoman Syria) and finally in Trieste. He was a member of the Royal Geographical Society and was knighted in Asia, Africa and America in 1886, as was known for his remarkable knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one of the censuses, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages.