The Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley: The Making of a 19th Century Explorer

The Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley: The Making of a 19th Century Explorer

by Henry Morton Stanley


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Henry Stanley is one of the most famous and flamboyant (and self-promoting) British explorers of the 19th century. After surviving a very difficult childhood, Stanley ran away to sea and became a soldier in the American Civil War, traveled to Greece, and finally to Africa, where he explored the continent in the name of civilization (and found Livingstone, of course). This book is the intimate and compelling self-portrait of the famous adventurer, edited by his wife.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589760103
Publisher: Narrative Press, The
Publication date: 06/01/2001
Pages: 580
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Henry Morton Stanley is one of the most famous 19th century British explorers; he is best known for finding Dr. Livingstone and for his subsequent exploration in Africa and establishment of the Congo Free State. However, most people are not familiar with this illustrious man's early life or his private thoughts. As he stated in a letter to his wife:

"Were I suddenly to be called away, how little, after all, the world would know of me! My African life has been fairly described, but only as it affected those whom I served, or those who might be concerned. The inner existence, the me, what does anybody know of?"

Stanley's purpose in writing the autobiography was to inspire young boys growing up under such difficult circumstances as he himself experienced. Stanley's early life was painful and bleak - an illegitimate child, he was sent to a workhouse at a young age because his family found him too much of a burden. There he was beaten and abused, but nevertheless received a fairly good education. While the circumstances of his childhood are certainly sad, it is amusing to hear this famous explorer's dramatic flair for self-pity: "...I was not sent into the world to be happy, nor to search for happiness." The first nine chapters are dedicated to Stanley's early life, and help to illuminate the events of his later distinguished career. He escaped the workhouse, travelled around the U.K. a bit, and then went off to sea and became a soldier in America.

In the second part of the book, Stanley's wife edits together the threads of narrative contained in his later journals. In these chapters we get a more immediate account of the events as they happened than we get in his other books. Some of these stories are brief but telling, and his wife fills them out with notes afterwards: "Judge drunk; tried to kill his wife with hatchet; attempted three times. - I held him down all night. Next morning, exhausted; lighted a cigar in parlour; wife came down - insulted and raved at me for smoking in her house!" Other anecdotes are more detailed, as when Stanley tells of the Indian wars in Western America or when he describes his time on the Greek island of Syra. Regardless of how he recorded it in journals, Stanley always found adventure in his many years of wandering.

For those who know something of Stanley's other work (such as In Darkest Africa, also available from The Narrative Press), his autobiography will be fascinating, and provides much different perspective from what we already know. Find out what was really going on in his mind as he journeyed through Africa in search of Dr. Livingstone:

"Fatal Africa! One after another, travellers drop away. It is such a huge continent, and each of its secrets is environed by so many difficulties, - the torrid heat, the miasma exhaled from the soil, the noisome vapours enveloping every path, the giant cane-grass suffocating the wayfarer, the rabid fury of the native guarding every entrance and exit, the unspeakable misery of the life within the wild continent, the utter absence of every comfort, the bitterness which each day heaps upon the poor white man's head, in that land of blackness..."

So why, one must ask, did Stanley spend so much of his life exploring this "land of blackness"? Find out in this truly compelling autobiography.

Table of Contents

Editor's Preface1
Part IAutobiography: Through the World
1The Workhouse12
3At Sea77
4At Work94
5I Find a Father126
6Adrift Again147
9Prisoner of War211
Part IIThe Life (continued, from Stanley's Journals, Notes, etc.)
11West and East231
12A Roving Commission245
13The Finding of Livingstone262
14England and Coomassie296
15Through the Dark Continent310
16Founding the Congo State346
17The Rescue of Emin371
18Work in Review410
19Europe Again432
20The Happy Haven446
21Politics and Friends464
22In Parliament492
23South Africa508
24Farewell to Parliament527
25Furze Hill532
26The Close of Life540
27Thoughts from Note-Books549

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