Sir Richard Burton

Sir Richard Burton Sir Richard Burton, English adventurer-writer (shown here modeling the garb he wore to enter the sanctum of Mecca) provided wouldbe travelers to the West with a comprehensive report of his Western tour in 1860. Sir Richard was already a celebrity. At the age of 39, he had fought in the Crimean War and in India; had explored Africa with an expedition that found the principal source of the Nile River; and, disguised as an Arab, had slipped into the Moslem forbidden holy city of Mecca.

In his role as a man of letters, Sir Richard wrote books and articles on almost every conceivable subject, from falconry to military tactics to the folkways of African tribes. He published thirty-nine volumes on his travels and explorations, three grammars of Oriental languages, five volumes of folklore and achieved enduring fame with his great sixteen-volume edition of The Arabian Nights.

In 1860, Burton decided to bring his literary talents to bear on the American West. The starting point of Burton's tour was the railhead of St. Joseph, Missouri. His stagecoach followed the overland route to Salt Lake City where he spent three weeks. From Salt Lake City he continued westward to San Francisco. The accounts of these travels were reported in The City of the Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California orginally published in 1861.

Important to the history of the Pony Express are Burton's detailed accounts of the stations that he visited along his route.

Source: The Old West: The Chroniclers. Time Life Books, New York, New York, 1976.

Here is a link to Sir Richard F. Burton on the Web, a comprehensive web directory and guide to all things Burton. On this site (created and maintained by Tim Spalding) you will find over 130 links, including biographies, selections from his works, academic articles, images and so forth. It is intended to offer some alternative to the nearly random results obtained by search engines (a certain homonymous Welsh actor is tough to shake).

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