David Livingstone


David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary who spent nearly thirty years in Africa and gained great renown for his travels and explorations in regions which had never before been seen by Europeans. Before Livingstone's travels, the geography of the interior of Africa was entirely unknown. Most African rivers were not navigable, the climate was hostile to white men, and dense jungles, insects, wild animals, slavers, disease, and hostile tribes made travel by foot nearly impossible for the initiated.

Livingstone arrived in South Africa in 1841 to work as a missionary, and for the first six years he and his wife worked mostly with natives in areas that had already been settled by whites. In 1847 he crossed the Kalahari desert in order to set up a new mission station near the Zambezi river. The experience of traveling into uncharted regions of the interior, however, convinced him that further exploration could not be accomplished with his family in tow, so in 1852 he sent his wife and children back to Britain, and prepared to embark his first expedition into the unknown interior of Africa.

Livingstone's first expedition began in Northern Botswana. Accompanied by twenty-seven natives associated with his northernmost mission station, he traveled west through Zambia and Angola until he reached the Portuguese settlement of Loanda near the coast. After resting briefly the party returned by the same route, and then continued to the east coast of Africa, following the Zambezi river. Livingstone's maps and observations of the region were all carefully maintained, and upon returning to Britain in 1856 he wrote a book based on his experiences called Missionary Travels that created a sensation.

Because of Livingstone's dramatic success, a plan was put forth by the British government to sponsor an "official" expedition in the region, with Livingstone as its leader. The "Zambezi Expedition" however, did not go well for a variety of reasons, and Livingstone's wife, who accompanied him on this second journey, died midway through it. In 1864 the expedition was recalled, and Livingstone returned again to Britain.

Livingstone's experience had taught him that he was better off traveling lightly with a few natives than on a heavily encumbered expedition with inexperienced Europeans. He therefore determined to set out on a third missionary journey by himself. This time he sought to explore the great lakes region of central Africa and find the source of the Nile. He had some success on this journey, but also encountered many terrible difficulties. After three years, he met up with H. M. Stanley in Tanzania, who encouraged him to return to Britain, but he resolved to continue his explorations. He became very ill however, and died a few years later.

Key events during the life of David Livingstone:

David Livingstone is born to a humble Scottish family.
  Obtains medical degree from Glasgow University.
Accepted as a candidate by London missionary society.
Arrives at Moffet's Missionary station in South Africa.
Married Mary Moffet. Set up Mission station on the Limpopo River.
Crossed the Kalahari Desert on an exploration trip to Lake Ngami.
  Moved with family to new mission station North of Kalahari.
Traveled back to Cape town and sent wife and children back to Britain.
Began first expedition to the interior, (Angola-Zambia-Mozambique).
Discovered Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.
Completed first expedition, returned to Britain, published Missionary Travels.
Resigned as a missionary in order to focus on exploration.
Began four year official "Zambezi expedition", accompanied by wife .
Recalled to Britain after death of wife, and other difficulties.
Returned to Africa to seek source of the Nile. Discovered the Lualaba River.
Met with H. M. Stanley in Ujiji.
Died of Malaria in Zambia. His body was returned to Britain by his servants.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Livingstone Found at Ujiji ujiji in  The Story of H. M. Stanley  by  Vautier Golding
Monuments of Westminster in  Back Matter  by  books/lord/westminster/_back.html
David Livingstone  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge
Livingston Traces Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge
Livingstone's Last Journey  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge
Livingstone's Discoveries in Central Africa  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  M. B. Synge
Preparing the Empire  in  The Reign of Queen Victoria  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

David Livingstone
 in The Story of David Livingstone

The lion began to crunch the bone of his arm
 in The Story of David Livingstone

They saw him dead on his knees
 in The Story of David Livingstone

Livingstone with his wife and family, at the discovery of Lake Ngami
 in A Book of Discovery

The discovery of Lake Bangweolo, 1868 Livingstone on the lake with his men
 in A Book of Discovery

Livingstone at work on his journal
 in A Book of Discovery

Livingstone entering the hut at Ilala on the night that he died
 in A Book of Discovery

Susi, Livingstone's servant.: From a sketch by H.M. Stanley
 in A Book of Discovery

David Livingstone
 in The Reign of Queen Victoria

Short Biography
Robert Moffet Long time missionary stationed in South Africa, and father-in-law of Livingstone.
Mary Livingstone Wife of David Livingstone who shared his missionary activities.
H. M. Stanley Met Livingstone in African, then continued his explorations. Followed the Congo river to the sea.