Burchell’s African Odyssey

ISBN: 9781775848158
Format: Paperback
Release Date:2022-08-30


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.

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