To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair.
With portraits, from photographs, of "Jack" and the authoress, and maps of the route, and Lake Tanganyika, by E. C. Hore.London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1886 Stock Code: 140740
Unconventional vehicular excursion in sub-Saharan AfricaExtremely uncommon first and only contemporary edition of this remarkable travelogue, with what "must surely be the most intriguing title of any travel book" (Robinson). Notable for preceding May French-Sheldon's better-known accounts by several years, and for its sobering observations on the slave trade, it is accompanied here by an autograph letter from the author's sister.
This is the best-known work of the Victorian travel writer Annie Boyle Gribbon (1853-1921), whose marriage to the surveyor Edward Coode Hore (1848-1912), appointed to the Lake Tanganyika Mission with the London Missionary Society, occasioned the titular trip to join her husband in establishing a mission station on Kavala Island. "Her journey was to be an experiment: Hore was determined to prove that wheels could be used on the track from the Zanzibar coast inland to the lake. Any wheels would do: 'if he could succeed in getting no other vehicle, he would at least take his wife to Ujiji in a wheelbarrow.' It did not quite come to that: after a number of false starts, Annie set off on her journey into the interior in a wicker Bath chair, complete with hood and wheels, and an emergency bamboo pole for when the going got too rough" (Robinson). In reality, the wheels were impracticable, and Annie and her infant son were carried, sedan-chair style, the entire way. Completed in just 90 days, the 830-mile journey was incredibly labour-intensive for the professional caravan porters - a workforce comprised of both free wage labourers and slaves or freed slaves known as Waungwana (see Rockel) - an example of black exploitation in the service of colonial missionary work which should not be effaced by the historical significance of Annie Hore's narrative itself.
To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair was received favourably and commended in particular for its plain-spoken eyewitness commentary on the slave trade. A review in The Anti-Slavery Reporter remarked that "though the journey was long and painful, the reading is easy and fascinating Mrs. Hore is still residing on a small island on the eastern shores of Tanganyika, and is doing good work in teaching the native girls. Her adventurous journey is very well described in the small volume just printed" (p. 22). Annie's husband later published his own account of their time abroad, Tanganyika: Eleven Years in Central Africa (London: Edward Stanford, 1892).
"Arguably, Annie Hore represents French-Sheldon's closest female competitor in sub-Saharan African exploration Hore's expedition preceded French-Sheldon's by more than five years, did not include white male chaperonage, was at least as hazardous and scientific, and was recorded in a published account. Nonetheless, French-Sheldon discounted Hore and the few other female missionaries and wives of male missionaries or colonial officers from earlier in the century as not having travelled to Africa purely for the purposes of exploration. The British and American publics simply overlooked Hore's less grandiose and less widely publicized travel completely in their acceptance of French-Sheldon's claim to being the first" (Boisseau, p. 213).
While being moderately well-represented institutionally, it is decidedly scarce on the market: we can trace just two appearances at auction, the most recent in 2007, and the one prior from the renowned Africana library of Humphrey Winterton.
Laid-into this copy, ticketed as sold by K. Knight of Chichester, is an autograph letter signed from the author's sister, Kathleen Mary Hore (née Gribbon) to a Miss Franny Kestwood of Chichester. Kathleen (Annie's older sister) married Samuel Coode Hore (1844-1896, Edward's older brother) in December 1870. Written from Swansea and dated 8 June no year, the long familiar letter enquires after news of family and shared acquaintances. Returned from abroad to recuperate from an illness, Kathleen reminisces fondly over childhood memories, makes plans to reunite with her friend, and provides updates on various members of the Gribbon and Hore families.
Octavo. Original grey-blue pictorial cloth, title in gilt to spine and front board together with images in white, black, and brown of Mrs Hore in her bath chair with bearers, sage green floral patterned endpapers.
Oval vignetted purple-brown toned original portrait photograph of the author mounted as frontispiece over facsimile signature, halftone portrait plate of her son Jack, 2 folding maps (a route map and a general map), coloured in outline. 32 pp. publisher's
Together with an autograph letter laid in, hand written in ink across 5 sides, paper blindstamped top left "Ivory", folded within envelope with later annotation in blue ink identifying sender and recipient; a few small perforations and nicks, ink splash marks. Bookseller's ticket, K. Knight of Chichester, to front pastedown. A little light refurbishment to extremities and colour, spine ends bumped, repaired clean tear in stub and split along fold of route map, short split into general map; a very good copy, attractive in the original cloth.
Robinson, pp. 162-3; Theakstone, pp. 208-9. Tracey Jean Boisseau, White Queen: May French-Sheldon and the Imperial Origins of American Feminist Identity, Indiana University Press, 2004; Stephen J. Rockel, "Slavery and Freedom in Nineteenth Century East Af
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