In late 1840, Scottish missionary Dr David Livingstone was sent to South Africa by the London Missionary Society. He spent many years there, seeking to spread Christianity, promote trade, campaign against slavery and explore the country.
Livingstone was the first European to cross the continent of Africa, travelling from the West to the East coast. He was also the first European to see Victoria Falls, which he named in honour of his Queen.
By the time of his death there he had become a national hero in Britain.
Publishing Livingstone's story
Publishers competed to tell Livingstone's story, and John Murray was successful in persuading Livingstone to become a Murray author.
The John Murray Archive, which contains original manuscripts, proofs and letters, is a rich resource for studying the publication history of the book.
Both publishing house and author's reputation were enhanced by 'Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa' (1857) and 'Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi' (1865).
'Missionary travels' was beautifully illustrated and written in an engaging and informed style.
It was phenomenally successful: the first print of 12,000 copies was sold out before publication and went on to several reprints and editions.
Highlights in the John Murray Archive