JOHANN LUDWIG BURCKHARDT (1784-1817)
Travels in Nubia. London: John Murray, 1819. 4° (277 x 211mm). Etched author's portrait as frontispiece by Angelica Clarke after Slater, three engraved maps, two of these folding. (Light spotting to frontispiece and maps, these slightly offset onto facing pages, folding maps each with short closed tear at fold, two stains to gutter margin k1-l1.) Contemporary dark navy polished calf, boards with double rule gilt border with arms of the Perkins family to the centre, gilt lettered red morocco to spine, marbled endpapers and edges (expertly rebacked, old spine laid down, boards somewhat scuffed). Provenance: Perkins family (binding).
FIRST EDITION of Burckhardt's posthumously published journals of his journey down the Nile and across the Nubian desert in 1813 and 1814. A 'balanced, objective and often sympathetic account of the Arab world' (Hamilton).
Swiss by birth, Burckhardt came to England in order to escape debts run up whilst at university in Germany. He arrived in London with an introduction to Sir Joseph Banks, then president of the African Association, and soon found himself chosen by the Directors of the Association to continue the task of exploring Africa. Departing England in 1809, he spent the next three years immersing himself in the Arab world, using Aleppo as his base (cf. Travels in Syria and the Holy Land). Thereafter he moved to Cairo and in 1813, having been unable to find a caravan with which to travel, he set sail on the Nile with letters from the ruler of Egypt to ease his passage, discovering the temple of Abu Simbel in March of the same year. In 1814 disguised as a Syrian merchant he travelled across the Nubian desert into Sudan in two caravans and eventually reached the Red Sea at Suakin from whence he sailed for Arabia.
Burckhardt's journals were edited by the topographer and numismatist William Leake, who also wrote the ninety-page biographical memoir which precedes the Travels. Howgego II, B76; Cf. Blackmer 238 (second edition); cf. Hamilton, Europe and the Arab World, 57.