Henry Stanley

Henry Stanley

In Darkest Africa (cover)

In Darkest Africa (titlepage)

Above are the cover and part of the titlepage from Stanley's book about his expedition to rescue the Emin Pasha. The illustrations on this page are also from In Darkest Africa published in 1890. Click on the pictures to see more

Henry Stanley (left) was born and baptized John Rowlands in 1841. He was the illegitimate son of a farmer and a butcher’s daughter. He spent a lot of his childhood in a workhouse, which he left when he was fifteen. He had many jobs, travelled to America, changed his name to Henry Morton Stanley, and became a journalist for the New York Herald.

Finding Livingstone
Stanley shot to fame when the newspaper sent him to “find” David Livingstone. Livingstone was in Africa, searching for the source of the Nile. He had not been heard from for several years.

Stanley made the difficult journey to Lake Tanganyika and met Livingstone in 1871. He greeted Livingstone with the famous line, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” When he returned to Britain in 1872, his book, How I found Livingstone was a success, but the scientific community made fun of his claims and his background.

A village in Ankori

Expedition across Africa
In 1874 Stanley set off on another expedition. He was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph and the New York Herald to travel across Africa and solve the mysteries of its lakes and rivers. It was the largest African expedition ever seen. Stanley took three other British men and 300 porters. Fighting with tribes, and disease killed many of them along the way.

The expedition charted the Lualaba and Congo rivers, before returning to England in 1877. Stanley’s account in Through the Dark Continent was a best seller, but some people questioned his violent approach to exploring.

Gymnastics in a forest clearing

Empire for King Leopold
Stanley’s report of the Congo interested the Belgian king, Leopold II. He employed Stanley to claim land in the Congo for him. Stanley worked to set up Belgian bases and build roads there from 1879-1884. Stanley’s work showed that there was money to be made in the Congo. Exploration of Africa’s resources led to the Scramble for Africa, as European powers fought to get a slice of the African pie.

Hunting an elephant on the Ituri River

Rescue of Emin Pasha

Stanley went on his final expedition in 1886. He was sent to rescue Emin Pasha, the governor of Equatorial Sudan, (otherwise known as Eduard Schnitzer). Emin Pasha (on the left in the picture below) wanted help to secure his rule after a Mahdist uprising. He was not keen to be rescued and forced to leave his post. Stanley had other motives for going on this mission. He wanted to strengthen King Leopold's Congo state in the west and the newly formed Imperial British East Africa Company in the east. Stanley also hoped to get Emin Pasha's valuable ivory store.

Emin Pasha and Stanley

As an explorer, Stanley saw himself as David Livingstone’s successor, but his methods were violent and colonial. They blurred exploration and war.