Sir Richard Francis Burton

The man who disguised himself as a Muslim and made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1853


Born 19 Mar 1821 in Torquay, Devon

Died 20 Oct 1890 in Trieste, Italy


Geographer, Explorer, Translator, Writer, Soldier, Orientalist, Cartographer, Ethnologist


Burton was awarded knighthood in 1886

Special Achievements:

1) Burton travelled in disguise to Mecca and made the Hajj; the Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the fifth pillar of Islam, it is a religious duty that must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so once in their lifetime

2) Burton visited the great lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile and was one of the first Europeans to see Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria Nyanza


1) Burton was captain in the army of the East India Company, serving in India.

2) He was engaged by the Royal Geographical Society to explore the east coast of Africa

3) He also served as British consul on the island of Fernando Poo off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, in Santos, Brazil, Damascus and Trieste

Cultural Impact:

Unexpurgated translation of One Thousand and One Nights

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