Box icon Dr David Livingstone (1813-1873)

African missionary and explorer

Photo of David Livingstone

In late 1840 Dr David Livingstone was sent to South Africa by the London Missionary Society. He spent many years there, seeking to spread Christianity, promote trade, campaign against slavery and explore.

He was the first European to cross the continent of Africa, travelling from the West to the East coast. He was also the first European to see Victoria Falls, which he named in honour of his queen. By the time of his death there he had become a national hero.

His reputation was greatly enhanced by the popularity of his books 'Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa' (1857) and 'Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi' (1865).

'Missionary travels' was beautifully illustrated and written in an engaging and informed style. It was phenomenally successful; the first print of 12,000 copies was sold out before publication and went on to several reprints and editions.

Highlighted items from the archive




NRA name: Livingstone David (1813-1873), explorer and missionary.

The National Register of Archives (NRA) contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history in archival holdings in the UK and overseas. You can find more information on the National Register of Archives name authority catalogue.


Top of page


Topics in the archive



Other Murray authors in travel and exploration:



'When first, I determined on publishing the narrative of my "Missionary Travels" I had a great misgiving as to whether the criticism my endeavours might provoke would be friendly or the reverse.'
– Livingstone, manuscript introduction to 'Missionary Travels', 1857 (Ms.42436 f.1).


Related links on the web:

Livingstone online

John Murray and the publication of David Livingstone's 'Missionary Travels'


Approximate location of one of the places David Livingstone explored:
Map of Britain showing notable locations
View other notable JMA locations in Google Maps