Series Two: Imperial Adventurers and Explorers
Part 1: Papers of Richard Burton (1821-1890) from the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office
This second series of Colonial Discourses looks at the role played by imperial adventurers and explorers in defining Masculinity and Empire.
Part 1 is based on the Arundel Papers at the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, only recently drawn to the attention of scholars. There are seven boxes of material in total, covering all aspects of Burton's life and work. At the heart of the collection is a series of scrapbooks kept by Richard and Isobel Burton, combining cuttings, letters and photographs. The African Scrapbook, 1856-1864, one on The State of Syria, 1869-1872, and one on Arabia, Egypt, India, Trieste, Spiritualism and Vivisection are particularly valuable, but scholars will also find much of interest in those concerning Brazil and Isobel Burton's Life of Burton. The cuttings are from an extraordinary range of papers from The Liverpool Post to the Rangoon Times.
There is much good material on Burton's consular activities in Damascus, 1870-1871, and a fine series of letters to Burton from Edward Freeman detailing affairs in the Balkans, an affray in Nazareth and the Midian Expedition. There are letters describing his mining interests on the Gold Coast and a detailed household inventory. Isobel Burton's manuscript of Iracema is included, as are details of the Burtons' financial circumstances and material relating to her will and the destruction of many of the manuscripts. There is publishing correspondence regarding the Arabian Nights and The History of the Sword and there are the Burtons' own copies of First Footsteps in East Africa, Lusiadas, and The Kasidah. There are also a large number of photographs and important surviving sections of Burton's notebooks and sketchbooks.
This material helps us to understand the public impression and reception of Burton and to see how he was woven into the fabric of heroic imperialism despite his best efforts to upset the system and to preserve local culture. They highlight both the political value of African Exploration and the personal forces that drove Burton.