Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal

OSWELL, William Cotton; OSWELL, W. Edward (ed.)

William Cotton Oswell, Hunter and Explorer. The Story of his Life.

With Certain Correspondence and Extracts from the Private Journal of David Livingstone, hitherto unpublished. By his Eldest son. with an Introduction by Francis Galton.

New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1900 Stock Code: 127570
Reserve Ask us a question

First US edition, same year as the UK. Cotton was educated at Rugby and Haileybury, the Company's seminary, before taking up a post as assistant collector at Arcot. Transferring to Madras he "won celebrity as an elephant-catcher" (ODNB). Ill health forced him to leave India for South Africa; "There he spent two years in hunting and became acquainted with the missionary David Livingstone. When in 1849 Livingstone determined to investigate the truth of rumours as to a great lake in the Kalahari, Oswell and his friend Mungo Murray returned to South Africa from England in order to take part in the exploration, Oswell undertaking to defray the whole expense of the guides. The result was the discovery by Europeans of Lake Ngami, and the important practical demonstration that the Kalahari could be crossed by oxen and wagons He again accompanied Livingstone in 1851, on an expedition to meet the Kololo paramount chief Sebituane. On that occasion they first sighted the Zambezi River In his lifetime he was more celebrated as a gentleman sportsman than as an African explorer. His collection of hunting trophies was renowned as a private museum and, at the end of his life, he contributed chapters to C. P. Wolley's anthology Big Game Shooting (1894). To the regret of his contemporaries, Oswell published no accounts of his expeditions with Livingstone". The present work was published to make up this deficiency. Loosely inserted 3-page autograph letter signed, dated in 1938, from the historian of South Africa, James Stuart to Oswell's kinsman Capt. Acland remarking on an article on Lake Ngami in the United Empire magazine. Stuart is outraged on Acland's behalf that Oswell "the leader of the 1849 Expedition is not so much as referred to once", and suggests that current interest may present "an opportunity of doing something like justice to your noble relative".

Confused? Read our glossary


2 volumes octavo. Original maroon buckram, title gilt to spines, tope edge gilt, the others uncut.


Tissue-guarded photogravure portrait frontispiece to each, numerous illustrations to the text throughout, many full-page, three full-page sketch maps, two folding maps at the rear of volume I, one of them coloured, and a large double-sided folding facsimi


Spines a touch sunned, a little light shelfwear, front hinge of volume I a little loose and with repair to the endpaper but overall a very good set.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book