Burton, Richard Francis – Explorer and Scholar


This Richard Francis Burton mug is part of a biographical series profiling unique scientists & inventors. This mug includes an image of Richard Francis Burton and a short biography.

Small Mug, 11 oz.

Large Mug, 15 oz.


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Born in Devonshire, England, Richard Francis Burton attended Oxford University before being expelled in 1842.  He then went to India and became an officer in the 18th Bombay Native Infantry during England’s war with the Sindh (now Pakistan).  He rose to the rank of Captain during the Crimean War in 1853-56.  As an explorer, Burton penetrated forbidden Muslim cities, including Mecca, by assuming the attire and speaking the languages of local peoples.  Richard Francis Burton mastered 25 languages and 15 various dialects, including French, Italian, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hindustani, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, and Multani.  He published 43 volumes on his explorations and 30 volumes of translations.

Source of the Nile

Richard Francis Burton was fascinated by the idea of discovering the source of the White Nile.  During an 1855 expedition with John Hanning Speke, Africans attacked the party wounding Speke, while Burton had a javelin thrown thru his jaw.  Two years later they made another attempt, Burton fell ill at Lake Tanganyika and Speke went on to discover Lake Victoria, and was convinced this was the source of the Nile.  This resulted in a falling out between the two friends and a great controversy within the Geographical Society.  Burton went on to document the rituals, sexual practices, and customs of people in the Near East and Africa.  He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1886.

This Richard Francis Burton History Mug is part of our Explorers, Science & Inventors series which includes many unique individuals who shaped our world through their actions.

The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history.  The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton.  He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone.  The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.

  • Mugs are food and microwave safe.
  • To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
  • Mugs are usually shipped within 3-5 days.

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