Dictionary of Indian Biography/Burton, Sir Richard Francis

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BURTON, SIR RICHARD FRANCIS (1821–1890)

Traveller, author and linguist : son of Colonel J. Netterville Burton : born March 19, 1821 : educated on the continent, without system, and was at Trinity College, Oxford, for 5 terms from 1840 : to India, 1842, in the Bombay Native Army : made himself proficient in Oriental languages and studied Muhammadan life and customs thoroughly, at Baroda and in the Sind Survey : wrote on Pushto and Beluchi : while in England, from 1849 to 1853, he published works on languages and his Indian experiences. In 1853 he made the pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise, without being detected, and wrote a full account of it. In 1854 he visited Somaliland with the leave of the Bombay Government : wrote Footsteps in E. Africa : in 1855, served in the Crimean war in the Bashibazouks : on leave from India, led an expedition with Speke to discover the sources of the Nile, 1856–9 : gained the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1859 : left the Indian service, only visiting that country again in 1876, to Aden, Sind and Goa. The rest of his life was spent in the Consular service at Fernando Po, in Brazil, Damascus, Trieste (1872–90), and in extensive travels in North and South America, on the Gold Coast, and in other countries adjacent to his consular appointments. His literary work was very considerable. He wrote on Camoens and translated the Lusiad : planned a great Book of the Sword : and translated the Arabian Nights, with a fulness of text and notes which laid bare his minute knowledge of Oriental nature : his works exceeded 50 volumes. His wife accompanied him wherever possible in his appointments and travels : and wrote a life of him, which was corrected by another account : made K.C.M.G. in 1885 : died at Trieste, Oct. 20, 1890.