CUMMING, Roualeyn Gordon.

Five Years of a Hunter's Life in the Far Interior of South Africa.

With notices of the native tribes, and anecdotes of the chase of the lion, elephant, hippopotamus, giraffe, rhinoceros, &c.

London: John Murray, 1850 Stock Code: 143111
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"One of the classics of African big game hunting and exploration a necessary title in the big game library" (Czech). First edition of a book that enjoyed a huge vogue, going through numerous editions during the 19th century in its abridged form and under the more eye-catching title, The Lion Hunter of South Africa.

The extravagantly named Roualeyn Gordon Cumming (1820-1866), was referred to by Livingstone as "a mad sort of Scotchman". He was a kinsman to the book's dedicatee, the duke of Argyll, and showed a propensity for blood sports while a boy at Eton. He tried the military life in India and South Africa but as this didn't suit him he followed his great passion and became a big game hunter; not in his native Scotland, where the game was too tame, but in Africa. "After purchasing a wagon and collecting a few followers he spent the next five years hunting, travelling widely, and exploring the interior of South Africa. In 1848 he returned to Britain, and in 1850 he published his Five Years of a Hunter's Life in the Far Interior of South Africa which made him the lion of the season. In 1851 Gordon-Cumming exhibited his trophies at the Great Exhibition. He then went about the country lecturing and exhibiting his lion skins for some years, and under the sobriquet the Lion Hunter he obtained great popularity and made a good deal of money in 1858 he established himself at Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal, where his museum was a great attraction to all tourists. He was a man of great height and physical strength" (ODNB). Czech notes that "near the Great Fish River, he discovered vast herds of springbok, wildebeest, gemsbok, oryx, and the like and enjoyed considerable hunting He met Dr David Livingstone in the bush".

Provenance: although unmarked as such, from the library of John Kingsley-Heath (d. 2011), who ran African safaris for more than half a century and was the author of Hunting the Dangerous Game of Africa (1998); see The Telegraph obituary 17 June 2011.

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2 volumes, octavo. Original fine lateral-grain sand-coloured cloth, sometime rebacked with pebble-grain cloth and the original spines laid down, gilt-lettered spines with large pictorial stamp adapted from vol. I title page, sides with ornamental blind panels, front covers with large gilt stamp of hunter and lion, back covers with blind stamp of kudu antlers, endpapers renewed.


Additional wood-engraved vignette title pages, frontispieces, 12 plates, and area map


Inelegantly but serviceably rebacked, corners also similarly repaired, bindings showing general signs of handling, a number of gatherings proud at the fore edge, scattered foxing and finger soiling. A good copy.


Czech p. 43.


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