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Alongside festivities grand and small, the David Livingstone 200 project has exciting plans to re-release Livingstone’s first published narrative, Missionary Travels and researches in South Africa, and the volunteers at the centre have played a key role in the preparation of the text for print.

Missionary Travels was originally published in 1857 after Livingstone’s first expedition to the South of Africa, 1841-57. Using his field diaries Livingstone produced a manuscript that detailed his experience as a missionary. It described the manner in which he was received by the African people, their culture and the horrors of the slave trade that plagued their society. The book also intricately depicted the natural wonders that Livingstone observed as he probed northwards into the African interior, and later as he traversed the continent in the hope of discovering a ‘highway’ into central Africa to help develop ‘Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation.’

Published by John Murray, the book was well received in Britain, selling over 70,000 copies. It turned Livingstone into an overnight celebrity and became one of the most popular books of the nineteenth century. His revelations enlightened a generation of the British public about Africa, and sparked great interest in the media.

Today it is still a fascinating read, as many of the volunteers at DLC have discovered. They have taken on the work of proof reading the text against the original published book from our archives, ensuring that the book published by David Livingstone 200 is an exact replica of the text in 1857. ‘It is an incredibly interesting read,’ says DLC museum guide Marbeth Graham, ‘he jumps from descriptions of incredible waterfalls, to detailed accounts of helping African women in childbirth.’ Other volunteers have enjoyed reading Livingstone’s own words. Ann Martin, a collections volunteer believes that the book gives the reader an ‘insight into the type of man that Livingstone was.’

For further information on the David Livingstone 200 project, please visit www.davidlivingstone200.org

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