HUMBOLDT, Alexander von

HUMBOLDT,Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von. Berlin 14.9.1769 — Berlin 6.5.1859. German Geographer and Explorer. Son of the Prussian Kammerherr and Major Alexander Georg von H. (1720–1779, his father Johannes Paul von H. had obtained the Prussian title of nobility in 1738) and Marie Elisabeth von Holwede (a widow, née von Colomb), younger brother of —> W. von H. Started his career 1787 as a law student at Frankfurt a.d.Oder, but after obtaining a large inheritance in 1797 devoted himself to natural sciences, studying at Göttingen, at Hamburg Handelsakademie and at Freiberg Bergakademie. In 1892-97 Bergassessor in Prussian service, 1798 moved to Paris. With the French botanist Aimé Bonpland he made a famous journey of exploration to South America (Venezuela, Columbia and Mexico) in 1799-1804. Lived then long time in Paris, until 1827. Back in Berlin taught geography at university. In 1829 he explored the Ural, Altai, Dzungaria and the Caspian. Member of Prussian Academy 1805 and of several other academies and societies. He was a pioneer of modern meteorology, but also interested in archaeology and cultural history.Between 1805-22 he often planned exploration to India (Varanasi and the Himalayas), which however never realised. Unmarried.

Publications: With others: Voyages aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau continent fait en 1799-1804. 1-30. P. 1805-34; Reise nach dem Ural, dem Altai und dem Kaspischen Meere. 1-2. B. 1837-42; several works on geography, meteorology and natular sciences.

Kosmos. Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung. 1-5. St. & Tübingen 1845-62 (2. Asien 1847).

Many further works; Gesammelte Werke. 1-12. St. 1889.

Sources: *A. Dove, A.D.B. 13, 1881, 358-383; P. Eliasson, Literature of Travel and Explor. 2, 2003, 572-575; *E. Plewe, N.D.B. 10, 1974, 33-43; Stache-Weiske 2017, 531; Wikipedia with several portraits, a photo, further references and bibliography (and more in German version).

*J. Théodoridès & Ming Wong, “A. von H. et les études asiatiques (lettres inédites à Stanislas Julien)”, BEFEO 58, 1971, 255-270.

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