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Mary Henrietta Kingsley

From: United Kingdom
Fields: Exploration and Adventure
Key Words/Phrases: English writer and explorer of Africa
Kingsley, Mary Henrietta (1862-1900), British explorer of West and Central Africa, who was the first European to visit parts of Gabon. Kingsley was born in London, the daughter of a medical doctor who traveled extensively. Kingsley made her first visit to Africa in 1893, following the deaths of her parents. She sailed to the Gulf of Guinea port of Calabar, on the coast of what is now Nigeria, and from there traveled inland. From the Niger River region to the north, she traveled southward as far as the lower Congo River region in what is now northern Angola. Throughout the trip she studied African religious practices. She returned to England in 1894. Kingsley returned to West Africa later that year, stopping first on the coast of what are now Cameroon and Gabon. In Gabon she traveled by steamboat up the Ogooue River. At Lambarene, she continued her river journey by canoe into the Great Forest region, territory that was then seldom visited by Europeans. After studying the life and culture of the region's Fang people, she returned to the Cameroon coast. Before her return to England in 1895, she climbed Mount Cameroon (4095 m/14,435 ft), the area's highest peak. Kingsley made her final trip to Africa in 1899, planning to visit West Africa again, but the outbreak that year of the Boer War in South Africa led her to travel there instead. While working in Cape Town as a nurse caring for Boer prisoners of war, she contracted typhoid fever and died at the age of 38. Kingsley wrote several books about her experiences in Africa, including Travels in West Africa (1897), West African Studies (1899), and The Story of West Africa (1899).

Contributed by: Alan Wexler

"Kingsley, Mary Henrietta" Microsoft Encarta.
Copyright 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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