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Livingstone: Revised and Expanded Edition

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    David Livingstone (1813-1873) is revered as one of history's greatest explorers and missionaries, the first European to cross Africa, and the first to find Victoria Falls and the source of the Congo River. In this exciting new edition, Jeal draws on fresh sources and archival discoveries to provide the most fully rounded portrait of this complicated man-dogged by failure throughout his life despite his full share of success.

    Using Livingstone's original field notebooks, Jeal finds that the explorer's problems with his African followers were far graver than previously understood. From recently discovered letters he elaborates on the explorer's decision to send his wife Mary back home to England. He also uncovers fascinating information about Livingstone's importance to the British Empire and about his relationship with the journalist-adventurer Henry Morton Stanley. In addition Jeal here evokes the full pathos of the explorer's final journey. This masterful, updated biography also features an excellent selection of new maps and illustrations.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19212-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Tim Jeal
  5. Note on Spelling
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: A Contradictory Hero
    (pp. 1-4)

    On 18 April 1874 Dr Livingstone’s body was buried in Westminster Abbey. The Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales attended, thick crowds lined Pall Mall and Whitehall, and many people wept, inside and outside the Abbey. The press agreed that there had been nothing like it since Lord Palmerston’s funeral.

    During his last wanderings in Africa no fewer than four search parties had been sent out in as many years, and the most expensive journalistic venture of all time had been instigated by theNew York Heraldwhen the proprietor sent Stanley to find him. Three years after their...


    • 1 Factory Boy 1813–1836
      (pp. 7-15)

      The harsh conditions which David Livingstone endured during his childhood wore down and destroyed all but a handful of those who experienced similar early hardships. Survivors won through by dint of a determination so forceful that it marked their characters for life. With Livingstone the legacy was to be a lasting sense of personal isolation and an inability to live with or tolerate less exceptional people.

      Scotland, at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, was going through a period of intense and drastic social change. At a time when landowners discovered that they could...

    • 2 Medical Studies and Missionary Training 1836–1840
      (pp. 16-25)

      On a day in the late autumn of 1836, David Livingstone and his father trudged the eight miles to Glasgow through thick snow to try to find a room. They took with them a list of likely lodgings provided by a friend from Hamilton, but this was not as useful as they had hoped, and as they grew colder and more tired, still no place was to be found at a rent they could afford. In the evening they at last came upon a room costing only two shillings a week. The name of the street was Rotten Row.


    • 3 Africa and South Africa 1841
      (pp. 26-33)

      When Livingstone landed at the Cape in 1841, the geography of central Africa was still as much of a mystery to Europeans as it had been to the Greeks and Romans two thousand years before. The existence of the great lakes was not suspected, and the positions of the sources of major rivers such as the Nile and Congo were matters only for wild and unproductive speculation.

      At first sight it seems unlikely, even improbable, that in the fourth decade of the nineteenth century so little was known of a continent which, over a thousand years before, had seen the...

    • 4 Early Disappointment: Kuruman, 1841–1843
      (pp. 34-48)

      The plan was that Livingstone should spend a short period at the Cape, recovering from his sea voyage, before going on to Bechuanaland and Kuruman to begin his life’s work. There was nothing specifically African that Livingstone could see in Cape Town as he wandered through the streets. The place was still very much the small Dutch port it had been fifty years before. The streets were largely unpaved and the vehicles most in evidence were not smart carriages but the lumbering ox waggons of the farmers. The buildings were pleasant gabled houses, mostly stuccoed, and either whitewashed or painted...

    • 5 A False Start: Mabotsa, 1844–1845
      (pp. 49-66)

      Before looking in detail at Livingstone’s missionary work, it is necessary to have a picture of the people he was trying to convert: their numbers, beliefs and tribal organization. To date, in explaining the minute number of converts, I have concentrated on the physical difficulties that faced the early missionaries: their isolation, agricultural tasks and problems ranging from the compilation of a language to the building of a house. All these activities dissipated energies and contributed to their failure, but the primary cause always lay with the Africans themselves.

      Livingstone’s estimate for the population of Bechuanaland was thirty thousand, and...

    • 6 Livingstone and the Boers: Chonuane, 1845–1847
      (pp. 67-74)

      The rapidity of Livingstone’s move to Chonuane was understandable, given the state of his relations with Edwards, but the choice of site could not have been worse. Sechele had already discovered this but had not wanted to discourage such potentially useful visitors as the Livingstones by telling them about his difficulties. Of course Sechele was no keener to become a Christian than the chief of the Bakhatla had been; he merely wanted a gun mender and technical adviser.

      Shortly after his arrival at Chonuane, Livingstone wrote proudly to friends, telling them that he was now the most remotely situated missionary...

    • 7 The Only Convert: Kolobeng, 1847–1849
      (pp. 75-86)

      Although Kolobeng had a better water supply than Chonuane, in other ways it was hardly more comfortable or more attractive: perched, as an English hunter later put it, ‘in naked deformity on the side of and under a ridge of red ironstone’.¹ There were woods several miles away but most of the surrounding country was as bleak and arid as any in Bechuanaland. Wild animals were numerous but this was no great advantage, for quite often a buffalo or rhinoceros would charge through the new settlement terrifying the women and children.

      Moving had become almost second nature to the Livingstones,...


    • 8 North to the Zambesi 1849–1851
      (pp. 89-109)

      Between 1849 and 1851 Livingstone made three long journeys north of Kolobeng, and these, especially the third, irrevocably altered the direction of his life and gave a definite form to his hitherto incoherent ideas. Between June and October 1849, he travelled over three hundred miles north-west of Kolobeng to Lake Ngami in the extreme north of modern Botswana—formerly Bechuanaland. His second trip, also to Ngami, took place between April and August 1850 and achieved no more than the first. On the third crucial journey, Livingstone reached the upper Zambesi, at the very heart of south-central Africa, in the area...

    • 9 Return to Linyanti 1852–1853
      (pp. 110-118)

      On 16 March 1852 the Livingstone family arrived in Cape Town, having come directly from Linyanti. The journey of roughly fifteen hundred miles had taken six months, including stops at the river Zouga, at Kolobeng and Kuruman. Livingstone had not seen a town for twelve years, and at first he found stairs so strange that he had to come down them backwards. He also had difficulty expressing himself in English; at Kolobeng he had spoken Sichuana almost the whole time. The family made a bizarre spectacle entering Cape Town in their waggon, with the children’s clothes in rags and the...

    • 10 From Coast to Coast 1853–1856
      (pp. 119-160)

      To avoid confusion I am beginning this chapter with a brief summary of Livingstone’s movements between May 1853, when he arrived at Linyanti, and May 1856, when he embarked for England from the East African coast near Quilimane in Mozambique.

      There are three distinct phases. The first, beginning in June 1853, was taken up with Livingstone’s search for a malaria-free site for a trading centre and mission on the upper Zambesi. This quest was in the Barotse valley, due north of Linyanti, and took Livingstone three hundred miles north-west up the Zambesi. Having failed to find a suitable site, Livingstone...


    • 11 National Hero: the First Visit Home, 1856–1858
      (pp. 163-175)

      During the time Livingstone spent in England, between December 1856 and March 1858, he received a measure of praise and adulation which, even in view of his impressive geographical achievement, strikes one today as excessive. The Royal Geographical Society gave him its gold medal, as did most similar European organizations, he was granted the freedoms of half a dozen major cities, became an honorary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) of Oxford University and finally had a private audience with Queen Victoria. His book,Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, published in November 1857, sold seventy thousand copies, earning £9,000...

    • 12 The Price of Optimism: the Makololo Mission, 1857–1860
      (pp. 176-185)

      The Makololo Mission was dogged from the very beginning by false expectations. InMissionary TravelsLivingstone had deliberately written about the Makololo in a much more favourable light than he had in his private correspondence. The cruel treatment meted out to their vassals was glossed over and the constant raids on neighbouring tribes made light of. He had also played down his own sufferings from fever, partly through modesty, and partly to avoid the implication that he considered missionary work to be a sacrifice. Nevertheless his predominant motive for appearing optimistic about the conditions in south-central Africa had been the...

    • 13 Her Majesty’s Consul
      (pp. 186-196)

      In this chapter I will try to explain how Livingstone, still a missionary in name if not in fact, became the leader of a government-sponsored expedition to Africa, and I will also attempt to show what he hoped to achieve in his new position. But before doing so it is essential to note the radically new direction Livingstone’s thinking had taken since he had returned home at the end of 1856. Unfortunately for Livingstone’s hopes, his new ideas were completely at variance with contemporary Government thinking on colonial affairs.

      During his trans-continental journey, Livingstone’s plans for south-central Africa had rested...


    • 14 The Zambesi Expedition Sets Sail
      (pp. 199-203)

      The Zambesi Expedition set sail from Liverpool in the Colonial Office steamshipPearlon 10 March 1858. Flurries of snow stung the faces of the more intrepid members of the party who had stayed on deck to see the coast of England disappear from sight. Within an hour or so the ship was pitching violently and most of them were below, being sick. Among those afflicted in this way were Mrs Livingstone and her youngest son, six-year-old Oswell, who had been so named after William Cotton Oswell, Livingstone’s former companion and benefactor. Already Livingstone had been heavily criticized for letting...

    • 15 The Rocks in God’s Highway 1858
      (pp. 204-215)

      On 14 May thePearlanchored off the maze of sandbanks and arid mudflats that formed the mouth of the Zambesi. The night before, there had been a storm which had come at a very bad time for Livingstone: during a severe attack of dysentery. ‘Nothing can exceed the discomfort and pain’, he wrote in his journal, ‘when one is obliged to hold on with all his might to prevent being pitched off the closet.’¹ It was a bad beginning.

      Most of the party were surprised to see a far from inviting coastline: monotonous mudflats and mangrove swamps stretched as...

    • 16 Colonial Dreams: the Shire and Lake Nyassa, 1859–1860
      (pp. 216-236)

      Between December 1858 and November 1859, the Zambesi Expedition would record its only positive achievements, and yet, ironically, Livingstone’s notorious over-optimism and ambitious new schemes would nullify these successes and sow the seeds of future disintegration and collapse.

      On 20 December 1858 Livingstone, Kirk and Rae left Tete in theMa-Roberton the beginning of the 200-mile trip downriver to the point where the Shire flowed into the Zambesi from the north. The Shire joins the Zambesi roughly a hundred miles from the sea, having flowed three hundred miles south from its source in Lake Nyassa. On New Year’s Day...

    • 17 Death of a Fighting Bishop
      (pp. 237-257)

      The first members of the Universities Mission arrived at the Kongone mouth of the Zambesi at the end of January 1861 in two ships of the blockading squadron: H.M.S.Sidonand H.M.S.Lyra. Livingstone, Charles and Kirk had spent a wet and gloomy month in a group of damp, mosquito-infested huts, waiting for the new arrivals. A few days before reaching the mouth, theMa-Roberthad done what she had promised to do for some months: she had gone to the bottom. Fortunately the crew had enough warning to get out most of the supplies and goods. Before leaving Tete,...

    • 18 Disaster and Collapse: the End of the Zambesi Expedition, 1862–1864
      (pp. 258-276)

      Bishop Mackenzie’s death did not change any of Livingstone’s plans. In March 1862 he was still determined to get theLady Nyassaup past the Murchison Cataracts to the lake after which she had been named. At Shupanga, Livingstone was three hundred miles from his objective and by the end of March the river had started to fall. There was no question of getting the steamer up to the cataracts in pieces on thePioneer; that would mean weeks, maybe months, aground in the Shire. The new steamer would have to be towed up by thePioneer, having been partially...


    • 19 The Last Visit Home 1864–1865
      (pp. 279-292)

      When Livingstone reached London in July 1864, there were no banquets and official receptions as there had been in 1856; and although one evening he was invited to dine with the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, and on another occasion took tea with Mr Gladstone, Livingstone could soon sense that these invitations had been prompted by dutiful courtesy rather than by any real enthusiasm. At eighty, Lord Palmerston was struggling with failing sight and hearing, and had insufficient energy to interest himself in concerns other than vital policy decisions. At the time of Livingstone’s return the Prime Minister was facing a...


    • 20 Nyassa to Tanganyika 1866–1869
      (pp. 295-323)

      Livingstone’s life as he prepared to leave England for the last time had already been shot through with many ironies: the missionary who made but one convert who lapsed, the expedition leader who hoped to navigate a river blocked by impassable cataracts, the guide who led two missions to disaster, the father who never knew his children. But the greatest irony of all was yet to come, for in the end the image of Livingstone which his contemporaries would retain and cherish owed nothing to these failures. The Livingstone myth rested entirely on the last eight years of his life,...

    • 21 Fantasy in Manyuema 1869–1871
      (pp. 324-341)

      Ujiji, situated seven hundred miles due west of Zanzibar, since the early 1840s had been a thriving Arab trading centre. From Ujiji’s small harbour a procession of dhows crossed Lake Tanganyika, transporting caravans to the slave and ivory fields west and south-west of the lake. In Ujiji itself the streets were rarely empty and as a rule groups of Arabs in white flowing robes, strings of slaves laden with grain and ivory, and flocks of sheep and goats on their way to market, all gave the place an air of activity and bustle. There were probably no more than thirty...

    • 22 Stanley and the Livingstone Myth
      (pp. 342-364)

      On 28 October 1869 Henry Morton Stanley, a twenty-eight-year-old journalist on the staff of theNew York Herald, had been summoned to an important meeting by the owner and editor of that paper, James Gordon Bennett Jnr, who was currently staying at the Grand Hotel, Paris. Bennett was an autocratic newspaper proprietor who rarely spoke to any of his journalists, so Stanley was privileged to be given a face-to-face interview. He would later claim that Bennett had weighed in at once with a question about an astonishing assignment never discussed between them before:

      ‘Where do you think Livingstone is?’


    • 23 The Last Journey 1872–1873
      (pp. 365-381)

      As Livingstone waited at Unyanyembe, throughout the spring and summer of 1872, he knew nothing about the fame Stanley had brought him, nor did he have any idea of the impact his anti-slavery despatches had had. All that came his way, as he waited six weary months for the men and supplies Stanley had promised to send from the coast, was news that a Relief Expedition had been sent and had broken up after Stanley’s arrival at Zanzibar. Livingstone’s son, Oswell, had been a member of the expedition, and like the others had decided not to press on. His father...

    • 24 Livingstone and the British Empire
      (pp. 382-396)

      The morning of 15 April 1874 was wet and windy, but shortly after dawn crowds started forming round the docks and quays of Southampton. By eight o’clock the Mayor and Aldermen of the town, dressed in their fur-trimmed robes, stood assembled on the quay. Behind them a military band was waiting, and not far away a company of the Royal Horse Artillery prepared to fire off a 21-gun salute at minute intervals. A long procession of black-draped carriages was being lined up just behind the main quay, but few eyes were concerned with preparations on land; the crowd and the...

  13. APPENDIX: The Date of the Stanley–Livingstone Meeting
    (pp. 397-399)
  14. Sources
    (pp. 400-403)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 404-416)
  16. Index
    (pp. 417-432)