Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1868. 8vo. xxii, , 596 pp. FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. With portrait frontispiece of Baker and his wife, 2 hand colored maps (1 folding), and 23 woodcut plates. Buckram, gilt spine; foxing on frontispiece and first few leaves, otherwise very clean. Ownership inscription in pencil on the back of the frontispiece. Item #15025
First American edition. Baker (1821-1893) was a British explorer, naturalist, and big game hunter, chiefly remembered for his exploration of central Africa and the “discovery” of the Albert N’yanza (Lake Albert), the source of the Nile River. He won the Royal Geographical Society’s gold medal for this discovery. Baker was also a prolific writer and published many popular accounts of his adventures (it is little wonder why his work was so popular - the sensationalist chapter headings would make even Indiana Jones blush!). The present volume details his 12-month exploration of the Nile River system and is an important account of European exploration of Africa during the Victorian period.
The double portrait frontispiece of Baker and his wife tells a particularly interesting story - truly the stuff of fiction. Although conflicting reports remain, Baker purportedly bought the future Lady Florence Baker at a white slave auction that he attended with the Maharaja Duleep Singh. Despite the rather strange beginning, Lady Florence Baker was a faithful companion to her husband and joined him on many adventures abroad, including the one described here. This is confirmed by Baker in his preface: “I was accompanied throughout the entire journey by my wife, who, with extraordinary hardihood and devotion, shared every difficulty with which African travel is beset.”.