Keyboard Access Tips

To play Great Lives - Series 30 - 4. David Livingstone you need to enable JavaScript. How?

Great Lives - Series 30 - 4. David Livingstone

Matthew Parris chairs the biography show, in which Colonel John Blashford-Snell explains why he admires fellow explorer, missionary and Victorian hero, Dr David Livingstone.

Dr David Livingstone was the Victorian equivalent of an astronaut - a man who ventured into the interior of Africa to report on territory that was wholly unknown to Europeans. In this programme, the explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell explains why he admires his predecessor. Matthew Parris chairs the discussion, assisted by Dr Sarah Worden of the National Museum of Scotland.

Livingstone went to Africa as a missionary but succeeded in making only one convert, who soon lapsed. Frustrated, he switched his focus to exploration, crossing southern Africa from east to west and back again. He discovered the Victoria Falls, but his attempts to reach the interior by going up the Zambezi were a disaster when he discovered that the rapids he had been warned about were impassable. On his recommendation, missionary families came out from England to settle in what is now Malawi but - as he should have anticipated - many of them died of disease.

Despite these failures, he was and is regarded as a hero. As a self-made man who put himself through university on his wages from working in a cotton mill, he embodied the Victorian can-do spirit. His map-making, natural history observations, facility with languages and sheer endurance in the face of overwhelming obstacles made him a formidable character. Above all, his legacy in helping to end the east African slave trade mean that he is still revered in Africa today.

  • Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 11:00PM Fri, 26 Apr 2013
  • Available until 12:00AM Thu, 1 Jan 2099
  • First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 4:30PM Tue, 23 Apr 2013
  • Categories
  • Duration 30 minutes

Credits

  1. Key talent Matthew Parris

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.