John Hanning Speke

John Hanning Speke

Infobox Person
name = John Hannington Speke


image_size = 180px
caption =
birth_date = May 4 1827
birth_place =
death_date = September 15 1864
death_place =
occupation = Officer and Explorer
spouse =
parents =
children =

John Hannington Speke (May 4 1827 – September 15 1864) was an officer in the British Indian army, who made three voyages of exploration to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile. He is most commonly referred to as John Hanning Speke.

Life

In 1844 the British Indian Army served in the Sikh War under Sir Colin Campbell. He spent his leave exploring the Himalaya Mountains and once crossed into Tibet.

In 1854 he made his first voyage, joining the already famous Richard Francis Burton on an expedition to Somalia. The expedition did not go well. The party was attacked and Burton and Speke were both severely wounded. Speke was captured and stabbed several times with spears before he was able to free himself and escape. Burton escaped with a javelin impaling both cheeks. Speke returned to England to recover and then served in the Crimean War.

In 1856, Speke and Burton made a voyage to East Africa to find the great lakes which were rumoured to exist in the center of the continent. Both men clearly hoped that their expedition would locate the source of the Nile. The journey was extremely strenuous and both men fell ill from a variety of tropical diseases. Speke suffered severely when he became temporarily deaf after a beetle crawled into his ear and he had to remove it with a knife. He also later went temporarily blind. After an arduous journey the two became the first Europeans to discover Lake Tanganyika (although Speke was still blind at this point and could not properly see the lake). They heard of a second lake in the area, but Burton was too sick to make the voyage. Speke thus went alone, and found the lake, which he christened Lake Victoria. It was this lake which eventually proved to be the source of the river Nile. However, much of the expedition's survey equipment had been lost at this point and thus vital questions about the height and extent of the lake could not be answered.

Speke returned to England before Burton, on 8 May 1859 and made their voyage famous in a speech to the Royal Geographical Society where he claimed to have discovered the source of the Nile. When Burton returned on 21 May, he was angered by Speke's precipitous announcements believing that they violated an agreement that the two men would speak to the society together. A further rift was caused when Speke was chosen to lead a subsequent expedition without Burton. [cite book
last = Stephen
first = Leslie
title = Dictionary of National Biography
publisher = Smith, Elder
year = 1898
location = London
pages = 325
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=migJAAAAIAAJ
] The two presented joint papers concerning the expedition to the Royal Geographical Society on 13 June 1859. [cite journal
last = Burton
first = R. F.
authorlink =
coauthors = J. H. Speke
title = Explorations in Eastern Africa
journal = Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London
volume = 3
issue = 6
pages = 348–358
date = 13 June 1859
doi = 10.2307/1799169
]

Together with James Augustus Grant, Speke left from Zanzibar in October 1860. When they reached Uganda Grant travelled north and Speke continued his journey towards the West. Speke reached Lake Victoria on July 28 1862 and then travelled on the west side around Lake Victoria without actually seeing much of it, but on the north side of the lake, Speke found the Nile flowing out of it and discovered the Ripon Falls. Speke then sailed down the Nile and he was reunited with Grant. Next he travelled to Gondokoro in southern Sudan, where he met Samuel Baker and his wife, continuing to Khartoum, from which he sent a celebrated telegram to London: "The Nile is settled." [cite journal
title = Twelfth Meeting, Monday Evening, May 11th, 1863
journal = Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London
volume = 7
issue = 3
pages = 108–110
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=3XwMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA109&dq=telegram+speke
]

Speke's voyage did not resolve the issue, however. Burton claimed that because Speke had not followed the Nile from the place it flowed out of Lake Victoria to Gondokoro, he could not be sure they were the same river. [cite journal
last = Burton
first = R. F.
title = Lake Tanganyika, Ptolemy's Western Lake-Reservoir of the Nile
journal = Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London
volume = 9
issue = 1
pages = 6–14
date = 14 November 1864
doi = 10.2307/1799295
] A debate was planned between the two before the geographical section of the British Association in Bath on 18 September 1864, but Speke died that morning from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound while hunting at Neston Park in Wiltshire. [Roy Bridges, " [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26101 Speke, John Hanning (1827–1864)] " (subscription or library card required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006. Accessed 15 Aug 2008.] An inquest concluded that the death was accidental, a conclusion supported by his only biographer, though the idea of suicide has appealed to some. Speke was buried in Dowlish Wake, Somerset, the ancestral home of the Speke family. [cite book
last = Stephen
first = Leslie
title = Dictionary of National Biography
publisher = Smith, Elder
year = 1898
location = London
pages = 327
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=migJAAAAIAAJ
]

The film "Mountains of the Moon" (1990) (starring Scottish actor Iain Glen as Speke) related the story of the Burton-Speke controversy. The film hints at a sexual intimacy between Burton and Speke. It also vaguely portrays Speke as a closeted homosexual. This was based on the William Harrison novel "Burton and Speke", which explicitly portrays Speke as homosexual and Burton as rampantly heterosexual. Both of these portrayals are marked by conflations of fact and artisic license and should be treated skeptically.

Mount Speke in the Ruwenzori Range, Uganda was named in honour of John Speke, as an early European explorer of this region.

Biographies and books about Speke

* "Speke" by Alexander Maitland (1971) (the only full-length biography).
* "Burton and Speke" by William Harrison (St Martins/Marek & W.H. Allen 1984).
* "A Walk Across Africa" by J. A. Grant (London, 1864)
* "The Travelling Naturalists" by Clare Lloyd. (Study of 18th Century Natural History - Includes Charles Waterton, John Hannington Speke, Henry Seebohm and Mary Kingsley) Contains colour and black and white reproductions. [ Published by Croom Helm (UK) in 1985 with ISBN 0 7099 1658 2 ]

ee also

* Speke's gazelle

Footnotes

External links

* [http://burtoniana.org Burtoniana.org] has facsimiles of all of Speke's [http://burtoniana.org/speke/index.html books, pamphlets and journal articles] freely available online, as well as his (corrected) DNB entry, obituary and inquest report from The Times, and several portraits and photographs, together with material on his companion James Grant and the complete works of his former friend, Richard Francis Burton.
*
**The complete text of [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3284 The Discovery Of The Source Of The Nile] by John Hannington Speke (from [http://www.gutenberg.org Project Gutenberg] ).
**The complete text of [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/6886 First Footsteps in East Africa] by Richard Francis Burton (from [http://www.gutenberg.org Project Gutenberg] ).
* [http://www.wollamshram.ca/1001/Speke/speke-bibliography.htm Selected Bibliography of Works by John Hannington Speke.]


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  • John Hanning Speke — (Bideford, 4 mai 1827 Corsham, 15 septembre 1864) était un explorateur anglais de l Afrique de l Est. Il a été officier de l armée britannique en Inde et a effectué trois voyages d exploration en Afr …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Hanning Speke — (* 4. Mai 1827 zu Jordans bei Ilchester in Somerset oder in Bath?; † 15. September 1864 bei Bath) war ein britischer Afrikaforscher. Leben John Hanning Speke lernte 1854 in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Hanning Speke — noun English explorer who with Sir Richard Burton was the first European to explore Lake Tanganyika; he also discovered Lake Victoria and named it (1827 1864) • Syn: ↑Speke, ↑John Speke • Instance Hypernyms: ↑explorer, ↑adventurer …   Useful english dictionary

  • John Hanning Speke — Viajó en 1857 con Richard Francis Burton en busca de las fuentes del Nilo, señalando al lago Victoria como origen. Unos años despúes regresó para demostrar que sus calculos eran correctos, debido a una polémica con Burton. Murió en 1864 por un… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Speke,John Hanning — Speke (spēk), John Hanning. 1827 1864. British explorer in Africa. He and Sir Richard Burton were the first Europeans to explore Lake Tanganyika (1858). * * * …   Universalium

  • Speke, John Hanning — born May 3, 1827, Bideford, Devon, Eng. died Sept. 15, 1864, Corsham, Wiltshire British explorer. He was a member of Richard Burton s expedition, and in 1858 Speke and Burton became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika. On the return trip …   Universalium

  • John Haning Speker — John Hanning Speke John Hanning Speke (* 4. Mai 1827 zu Jordans bei Ilchester in Somerset oder in Bath?; † 15. September 1864 bei Bath) war ein britischer Afrikaforscher. Leben John Hanning Spe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Speke — John Hanning Speke John Hanning Speke (* 4. Mai 1827 zu Jordans bei Ilchester in Somerset oder in Bath?; † 15. September 1864 bei Bath) war ein britischer Afrikaforscher. Leben John Hanning Spe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Speke — John Hanning Speke John Hanning Speke (* 4. Mai 1827 zu Jordans bei Ilchester in Somerset oder in Bath?; † 15. September 1864 bei Bath) war ein britischer Afrikaforscher. Leben John Hanning Sp …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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