George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

David Livingstone letter from Africa: acquired in 1978

In 1859, the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone wrote from Central Africa to his friend and legal adviser Joseph Bevan Braithwaite. In his letter, shown here, he describes his first visit to Lake Nyassa (now Lake Malawi) and the cotton-growing country on its shores. This was one of the early incidents in the Government-sponsored Zambezi expedition led by Livingstone.

This letter is part of the Braithwaite Livingstone Collection at the National Library of Scotland, and was acquired in 1976. The first documents relating to Livingstone arrived at the Library in 1937. Collecting began in earnest in the 1960s. At that time items were deposited by several branches of the explorer's family and by the David Livingstone Memorial (now David Livingstone Centre) at Blantyre in Lanarkshire.

Since then we have acquired many original letters, and copies have been made of those held elsewhere (for the David Livingstone Documentation Project). These have joined the papers of other explorers – such as James Augustus Grant, who accompanied J H Speke on his discovery of the source of the Nile – and missionaries.

Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.

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