Through the Dark Continent


Henry Morton Stanley (1841–1904) was born at Denbigh in North Wales, the illegitimate son of John Rowlands and Elisabeth Parry. His original name was John Rowlands. Abandoned by his mother, he spent his earliest years in the custody of relations but was then raised in the grim conditions of a workhouse. At age 17, he made his way to New Orleans, where he worked for a cotton broker and took on his new name. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate Army, was captured at the Battle of Shiloh, and gained his freedom by enlisting in the Union Navy. After the war, he worked as a freelance journalist and special correspondent for the New York Herald, which sponsored his famous expedition of 1871–72 to East Africa to find the Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingstone. In 1874, Stanley undertook another African expedition, also sponsored by the Herald with the London Daily Telegraph, to explore vast areas of Central Africa. After setting out from Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean in November 1874, Stanley circumnavigated Lake Victoria and explored Lake Albert and Lake Tanganyika. He then travelled down the Lualaba and Congo rivers, reaching the Atlantic in August 1877. Through the Dark Continent is Stanley’s account of the voyage, which involved enormous hardships and difficulties. Of the 356 people who started out from Zanzibar, Stanley was one of only 114 to survive the journey, and the only European.

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Sampson Low, London



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657 pages : illustrations


  • From the Uganda Christian University. Digitized at the National Library of Uganda with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York

Last updated: October 19, 2015