# 39603

BURTON, Richard Francis, Sir (1821-1890)

Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.

$13,500.00 AUD

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London : Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855-56. First edition. Three volumes, octavo (230 x 150 mm), original blue cloth bindings by Edmonds & Remnants, London (bright and scarcely rubbed), boards with decorative borders in black (corners bumped), spines with gilt lettering and black decoration (softened at heads and tails; first volume with short split to cloth at junction of head and rear outer hinge), original terracotta pastedowns and endpapers, front and rear pastedowns with publisher’s advertisements, publisher’s discreet manuscript entries 2 vols. coll.: & perf. FCB 16 Oct. 1855 and Vol. 3. coll.: & perf. F.C.B. 9 March 1856, to the front pastedowns of the first and third volumes, respectively; Volume 1. pp. xiv, [1 Errata], 388, 24 (publisher’s catalogue); Volume 2. pp. iv, 426; Volume 3. pp. x, [1 List of Plates], 448; 1 folding engraved map, 3 plans (2 folding), 14 plates (5 chromolithographs, 8 tinted lithographs, 1 wood engraving), all with tissue guards; half-title in Volume 3 only, as called for; bindings nice and firm, some very occasional light spotting; a superb set in the publisher’s bindings.

The very rare first edition of ‘one of the greatest works of travel ever published’ (Penzer). 

During his initial seven years of military service in India in the 1840s, the explorer Sir Richard Burton had acquired proficiency in both Arabic and Persian, as well as a deep knowledge of Islam and an understanding of the mores of Muslim society. These assets obviously enabled him to prepare for his 1853 Hajj to Mecca and Medina, a covert expedition for which Burton had won the Royal Geographical Society’s and his army superiors’ approval, and which was to bring him lasting fame. Disguised as a Muslim pilgrim, Burton became one of the first Westerners to visit Mecca and a number of other holy Islamic sites on the Arabian Peninsula.

Having started out in Alexandria in April 1853 disguised as a Persian mirza – the first of various guises he would adopt on his journey – Burton then spent the period of Ramadan in Cairo. Accompanied by a young Indian slave, and carrying with him a diary, notepaper, writing instruments, watch, compass and money concealed in a small case designed to hold a Qur’an, he next travelled overland to Suez and then by boat to Yambu, where he joined a caravan to Medina. From there he went south with the Damascus caravan, finally entering Mecca on 11 September 1853. His return journey was via Jeddah to Cairo, and thence to Bombay, where he wrote Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.

Abbey, Travel 368; Penzer, pp. 49-50