Letters from David Livingstone, William Cotton Oswell and Richard Thornton (photocopies)

Scope and Content

45 letters from David Livingstone, 2 from William Cotton Oswell, and 1 from Richard Thornton. A large number of the Livingstone letters are addressed to William Cotton Oswell. Photocopies.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish missionary and explorer of Africa. His career can be split into four distinct parts: the early missionary explorations during which he travelled into the Kalahari region, discovered Lake Ngami, and demonstrated that the Kalahari could be crossed by oxen and wagons (1841-1849); the expedition from Angola to Mozambique during which he discovered and named the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River (1850-1856); the explorations along the Zambezi River (1858-1864); and his unsuccessful search for the source of the Nile River during which he disappeared but was found in 1871 by Henry Morton Stanley on Lake Tanganyika (1866-1873).

William Cotton Oswell (1818-1893), English explorer, hunter and sportsman. He was part of David Livingstone's expedition into the Kalahari which discovered Lake Ngami. The kuabaoba, or straight-horned rhinoceros, was named Oswellii after Oswell, who also received the medal of the Societ de Gographie de Paris for his share in the journey. He accompanied Livingstone again in 1851 on an expedition to meet the Kololo paramount chief Sebituane. On that occasion they first sighted the Zambezi River.

Richard Thornton (1838-1863), English geologist. Thornton was the geologist on David Livingstone's expedition along the Zambezi River. He left the expedition between c.1859-1862 and continued with his own explorations. He also accompanied the explorer Baron von der Decken on his first attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (1861).

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Marion Lowman, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Administrative/Biographical History compiled with reference to Encyclopaedia Britannicaand the Dictionary of National Biography .

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.

Listed as no. 22 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library, Oxford, compiled by Louis B Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1968).

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Additional Information

The originals are held in the Livingstone Museum, Zambia.