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LYON, G. F.

A Narrative of Travels in Northern Africa, In the Years 1818, 19, and 20;

Accompanied by Geographical Notices of Soudan, and of the Course of the Niger.

Published: London: John Murray, 1821

Stock code: 91133

Price: £3,000

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition of this account of the British North Africa expedition led by Joseph Ritchie that sought to reach the Niger from the north. ‘During the closing years of the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth several British expeditions had been sent into the interior of North Africa for the sole purpose of delineating the course of the Niger’ (Howgego). Lyon (1795-1832) was a British naval officer serving in the Mediterranean who, while stationed at Malta, volunteered to join Ritchie on his scientific mission. The officer originally commissioned, Frederick Marryat, was unable to do so. The expedition left Tripoli in April 1819 but was greatly delayed at Murzuk, the capital of Fezzan, as Ritchie and Lyon were both taken ill. While Lyon recovered, Ritchie died in late November 1818, succumbing to dysentery. Lyon took over command of the expedition and continued eastwards to Zuila before returning to Tripoli in March 1820. From here, he sailed for England, arriving in London in July 1820. While the mission was abandoned it was not a complete failure, as Lyon brought with him ‘intelligence gathered from merchants that the Niger “runs into a lake called Tsaad”. He also brought back the first reports of the fate of Hornemann’. Once back in England, Lyon wrote this account of his and Ritchie’s journey, with interesting descriptions of the local customs and social life, medical remedies, and natural history of the region.

Quarto. Original dark green cloth-backed grey boards, modern facsimile label to spine. Housed in a light brown quarter morocco solander box. 17 hand-coloured lithographs, mainly of costumes, by Hullmandel after Lyon, all bound at the end, and a partially coloured engraved folding map. Several unopened folds. Spine ends somewhat bumped, label slightly tanned, boards a little soiled and worn, very light foxing throughout, short closed tear to inner margin of map. An excellent copy.

Bibliography: Abbey Travel 304; Blackmer 1044; Gay 2780; Hilmy I 397; Howgego II L52.

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