Kingsley: Imperial Adventuress
When I was an undergraduate at Edinburgh University, my African
History tutor set me an essay topic. ‘Mary Kingsley – can
her views be taken seriously?’ I wasn’t even sure
who Mary Kingsley was. But I soon found out that she was an extraordinarily
individual woman, who, on the sudden deaths of both her dependant
parents, ‘felt like a boy with a new half crown’,
abandoned her suffocating Cambridge home and sailed to West Africa.
Soon, she was my first love. Her 1896 portrait was pinned up
above my student desk. I travelled to West Africa in her footsteps,
sailing home as she did, on an Elder Dempster cargo vessel.
Mary Kingsley was recently the subject of Great Lives on BBC Radio
4, where I debated her legacy with the journalist Ann Leslie. http://royalafricansociety.org/history/transcript_marykingsley
Imperial Adventuress is my biography of this extraordinary woman.
I have also compiled a bibliography of Mary Kingsley’s writings
for the Royal African Society which was founded in her memory. ‘Mary
Kingsley (1862-1900). A Biographical Bibliography’