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COLONIAL DISCOURSES

Series Two: Imperial Adventurers and Explorers

Part 2: Papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-92) and John Hanning Speke (1827-64) from the National Library of Scotland

Publisher's Note

There is more than one type of Colonial Discourse. This project brings together a wide variety of sources - travel narratives, Indian and African fiction, papers of explorers - which will enable scholars to understand the complexities which exist and to look at the way in which individuals related to the process of Empire and colonisation. How were territories named? How were indigenous peoples treated? Were different cultures respected?

This second series covers papers of imperial adventurers and explorers. Part 1 covered the recently discovered papers of Richard Burton at Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office. Part 2 covers the papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-1892) and related material by John Hanning Speke (1827-1864) from the National Library of Scotland.

Like Burton, Grant began his colonial career in India, joining the Bengal Army in 1848. He was present at the Siege of Multan, the Battle of Gujarat and at the Relief of Lucknow. Grant used his army career as a springboard for entry into the world of exploration and in 1860 he was seconded to join the Royal Geographical Society's expedition under John Hanning Speke to discover the source of the Nile. This was a follow up to Burton and Speke’s original expedition of 1856 in which Speke had left Burton recuperating from malaria while he set off to discover Lake N’yanza. He renamed this Lake Victoria and claimed it to be the source of the Nile. The 1860 expedition sought to prove this claim. Grant and Speke became the first Europeans to enter Uganda and spent much time with King Mutesa and local tribes. Once again, Speke set off alone when his companion fell ill and found a river flowing north out of Lake Victoria. His claim was hotly disputed and Speke died mysteriously in a shooting accident one day before he was due to meet Burton in public and assert that he had discovered the source of the Nile. His theory was not proven until Henry Morton Stanley’s expedition of 1874.

Speke’s own three volume journal of the expedition is included here, and scholars of colonial discourse will be interested to see how this was edited for publication. What was cut out and suppressed? What language was changed? All can be seen from the manuscripts which were rearranged for book publication with large sections crossed out (but still readable), and new linking passages inserted.

To balance this we also offer Grant’s journals for this and other expeditions, dated 1846, 1848-1849, 1852-1854, 1858-1891, describing life in Britain, India and Africa. We also offer Grant’s frank and revealing family correspondence and letters from Edwin Arnold, Samuel Baker, Sam Browne, Paul Belloni du Chaillu, Francis Galton, C E Gordon, Sir Henry Hamilton Johnston, John Kirk and David Livingstone amongst others.

Finally there are letters of James Grant, junior, his eldest son, who accompanied Joseph Thomson on his last African expedition and who was also involved in Cecil Rhodes' plans for central Africa.

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