1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Holman, James

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HOLMAN, JAMES (1786-1857), known as the “Blind Traveller,” was born at Exeter on the 15th of October 1786. He entered the British navy in 1798 as first-class volunteer, and was appointed lieutenant in April 1807. In 1810 he was invalided by an illness which resulted in total loss of sight. In consideration of his helpless circumstances he was in 1812 appointed one of the royal knights of Windsor, but the quietness of such a life harmonized so ill with his active habits and keen interests that he requested leave of absence to go abroad, and in 1819, 1820 and 1821 journeyed through France, Italy, Switzerland, the parts of Germany bordering on the Rhine, Belgium and the Netherlands. On his return he published The Narrative of a Journey through France, &c. (London, 1822). He again set out in 1822 with the design of making the circuit of the world, but after travelling through Russia into Siberia, he was suspected of being a spy, was arrested when he had managed to penetrate 1000 m. beyond Smolensk, and after being conducted to the frontiers of Poland, returned home by Austria, Saxony, Prussia and Hanover. He now issued Travels through Russia, Siberia, &c. (London, 1825). Shortly afterwards he again set out to accomplish by a somewhat different method the design which had been frustrated by the Russian authorities; and an account of his remarkable achievement was published in four volumes in 1834-1835, under the title of A Voyage round the World, including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, &c., from 1827 to 1832. His last journeys were through Spain, Portugal, Moldavia, Montenegro, Syria and Turkey; and he was engaged in preparing an account of this tour when he died in London on the 29th of July 1857.