BURTON, Richard Francis. Barnham House, Hertfordshire 19.3.1821 — Trieste 20.10.1890 (Dingle & Garrett: born in Torquay, Devon, Penzer explains: born in Toquay, baptised in Elstree, Herts). Sir. British (partly of Irish origin) Oriental Scholar, Pioneer of Anthropology, Traveller and Diplomat. Son of colonel Joseph Netterville B. and Martha Beckwith Baker. As a child he travelled much with his parents in France and Italy, only rarely going to school. From 1840 studies at Oxford (Trinity College), but did not finish them and joined in 1842 Native Bombay Infantry as cadet. Serving in Gujarat he quickly learned languages (Hindustani and Gujarati) and manners, then in Sindh (wandered in villages in disguise) and Maharashtra, returned to England in 1849. His famous visit to Mecca in Afghan Muslim disguise took place in 1853, in 1854 he was in Somalia and Harar, in 1856-59 sought with Speke for the sources of the Nile in Central African lake region, and in 1860 visited North America (Utah). In 1855 served in Crimea. He entered the consular service and served as British consul 1861-65 in the then Spanish Fernando Poo (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea), 1865-69 in Santos (Brazil), 1869-71 in Damascus, and from 1872 until his death in Trieste. During these appointments travelled widely in West Africa, South America and Syria, in 1881-82 visited Gold Coast. Married in 1861 Isabel Arundell (1831–96), with whom he visited India again in 1876. K.C.G.M. 1886. Died of gout and heart disease.
Burton was a gifted and many-sided man, who wrote a great number of books. He was quick in learning languages and is said to have mastered 25 of them. He knew Arabic, Persian, several NIA languages, Pashto, etc. He started his scholarly career with Indian linguistics and crowned it with his famous commented translation of the Arabian Nights. He was unconventional and outspoken, including sexual matters, and caused much criticism, even scandals, in the time of Victorian moralising.
Publications: “A Grammar of the Jataki or Belochki Dialect”, JBRAS 3, 1849, 84-125; A Grammar of the Multani Language. 8+422 p. L. 1849.
– Scinde, or the Unhappy Valley. 1-2. 297+309 p. L. 1851; Sindh and the Races that inhabit the Valley of the Indus. 422 p. L. 1851; Falconry in the Valley of the Indus. 107 p. L. 1852; Scind revisited. 343+331 p. L. 1877.
– Goa and the Blue Mountains. 404 p. L. 1851 (travel account).
– Vikram and the Vampire, or Tales of Hindu Devilry. 24+319 p. 33 ill. by E. Griset. L. 1870 (free transl. of 11 tales from the Braj Baitāl Pacīsī).
– Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah. 1-3. L. 1855; First Footsteps in East Africa.40+648 p. L. 1856; The Lake Regions of Central Africa. 1-2. L. 1860; The City of the Saints. N.Y. 1861 (Salt Lake City); Wanderings in West Africa. 1-2. L. 1863; Abeokuta and the Cameroon Mountains. 1-2. L. 1863; A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome. 1-2. L. 1864, 2nd ed. L. 1893; Wit and Wisdom from West Africa: a Collection of 2859 Proverbs. 31+455 p. L. 1865; Gorilla Land, or the Cataracts of the Congo. 1-2. L. 1875; Explorations of the Highlands of the Brazil. 1-2. L. 1869; Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay. 14+491 p. L. 1870; Ultima Thule; or, A Summer in Iceland. 1-2. L. 1875; Etruscan Bologna: a Study. 12+275 p. L. 1876; The Gold Mines of Midian and the Ruined Midianite Cities. A Fortnight’s tour in North-Western Arabia. 16+398 p. L 1878; To the Gold Coast for Gold. 1-2. L. 1883; etc.; many anthropological and geographical articles.
– With C. F. T. Drake: Unexplored Syria. 1-2. L. 1872.
– Anonymous translation (by Burton and F. F. Arbuthnot) of the Kāmasūtra published by the Hindoo Kama Shastra Society, Benares 1883, reprinted with introduction by J. W. Spellman. 252 p. New York 1962.
– Translated: The Lusiads. 1-2. L. 1880; The Arabian Nights. 1-10. 1885-86, Suppl. 1-5. 1887-88; other translations.
– The Book of the Sword. 1. L. 1884 (history of the sword).
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; J.S.C[otton], D.N.B. Suppl. 1, 1901, 349-356; *E.W. Brabrook, JRAnthrInst 20, 1891, 295-298; R.N.C[ust], JRAS 1891, 162-165; N.M. Penzer, JRAS 1921, 304-307 and Man 21, 1921, 74-76; A. Dingle in D. Thomas & Cl. Chuesworth (eds.), Christian-Muslim Realtions: A Bibliographical History. Vol. 17. Great Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia (1800–1914). Leiden & Boston 2021, 368-383; G. Garrett, Literature of Travel and Explor. 1, 2003, 148-150; *J. Thompson, Oxford D.N.B.; *Wikipedia with several photos and more references.
*F.M. Brodie, The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir R.B. N.Y. 1967; *Isabel Burton (his widow), The Life of Captain Sir R.B. 1-2. L. 1893; *The Romance of Isabel Lady Burton, the story of her life. Told in part by herself and in part by W.H. Wilkins. 5th ed. 778 p. L. 1899; *S. Digby, Sir R.B.; The Indian Making of an Arabist. Jersey 2006; *W.Ph. Dodge, The real Sir R.B. N.Y. 1907; *Byron Farwell, Burton. A Biography of Sir R.F.B. L. 1990; *J.R. Gosall, The Tangled Web: A Life of Sir RB. L. 2008; *Fr. Hitchman, R.F.B. His early, private and public life, with an account of his travels and explorations. 1-2. L. 1887; *D. Kennedy, The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World. 2005; *M. Lovell, A rage to live. A biography of Richard and Isabel Burton. N.Y. 1998; *H.J. Schofield, R.B., Explorer. 303 p. 1936; *G.M. Stisted, The true life of Captain Sir R.F.B., written by his niece, with the authority and approval of the Burton family. N.Y. 1897; *T. Wright, The life of Sir R.B. 1-2. L. 1906.
– An Annotated Bibliography of Sir Richard Francis Burton. 16+351 p. L. 1923.