David Livingstone

Energy and courage: David Livingstone (1813-1873)

David Livingstone was a Scottish explorer and missionary in Africa. He was the first European to cross the African continent, travelling from the West to the East coast. Livingstone spent many years there seeking to spread Christianity, promote trade, campaign against slavery and explore the continent. He was also the first European to see Victoria Falls which he named in honour of Queen Victoria. By the time of his death in Africa, he had become a national hero. Samuel Smiles saw Livingstone as an example of energy and courage.

Early life in Blantyre

Livingstone came from a mill worker's family in Blantyre Lanarkshire, and as a 10-year-old had to be sent to work at the mill. Even after working a 12-hour day he still had the energy and determination to spend two hours at the village school. He managed to qualify to study medicine at Glasgow University, before deciding to become a missionary.

During his expeditions in Africa he faced many dangers and difficulties and was famously attacked by a lion. His guides saved him, but one of his arms was damaged for life. He became increasingly debilitated and eventually died at Chitambo in modern-day Zambia.

Livingstone published an account of his first expedition to Africa called 'Missionary Travels'. It was a compelling drama of self-improvement, expanding knowledge, and non-sectarian Christian fortitude. Smiles described it as 'one of the most fascinating books of its kind that has ever been given to the public.'

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