Roger Stewart has researched Burchell for 15 years. He worked in medicine and business, and currently deals in historical maps of Africa. His collection of essays on maps, A Cape Odyssey, was published in 2021. He represents the International Map Collectors’ Society in South Africa and is a member of the Washington Map Society and the Royal Society of Southern Africa.

  • Burchell’s African Odyssey

    The English naturalist William Burchell set from Cape Town in June 1811 to explore the flora and fauna of the vast southern African interior. Over a four-year period, and travelling in a custom-built ox wagon, he amassed an astonishing 63 000 specimens of plants, bulbs, insects, reptiles and mammals – many not previously documented for science – and produced more than 500 paintings and illustrations. While the outbound trek is well described in Burchell’s famous Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, the challenges
    and discoveries made on his return journey to Cape Town, from 1812-1815 have not been described. In Burchell’s African Odyssey, authors Roger Stewart and Marion Whitehead embark on a similarly daunting task – to reveal the homeward leg of
    Burchell’s epic trek from the southern Kalahari via the Karoo and southern coastal belt back to Cape Town. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, including Burchell’s letters, his handwritten records archived at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the detailed
    map he created to record his trek, the authors have crafted a thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated account that encompasses both the genius of the man and the natural history of the region that so intrigued him.