London: Colburn, 1830. First English Edition. Frontispiece portrait (Volume I) and 7 plates, including 2 folding maps (Volume II). Contemporary boards, rebacked in cloth, spine labels; preliminary and end leaves quite browned with a tear on second folding map, text otherwise clean. An uncut copy. Item #15142
First edition in English (published the same year as the original French). This was the very exciting first description of Timbuktu by a European to visit that city and return alive to tell his tale. Caillié was awarded 10,000 francs by the Société de Géographie in Paris for his official “discovery.” Disguised as an Islamic convert, he was able to travel from Senegal through Soulimana, Jenné, and along the Dhioliba River to Timbuktu and then on to Morocco. His experience was unique among Western adventurers, and the narrative recounts his personal interactions with religious leaders and local clans, as well as reporting economic details for his European audience.
Even in his youth the orphaned Caillié (1799-1838) lusted after adventure. With an imagination bred by Robinson Crusoe and books on African adventures, he set off on a ship bound for Senegal. Caillié survived scurvy and tropical fever, only to succumb to tuberculosis a few years after his triumphant return from Africa. Unlike other colonial explorers, Caillié believed one had to understand local culture in order to have successful expeditions. He spent a year with the Senegalese Braknas tribe studying Islam and Arabic in preparation for his journey to Timbuktu.