Mary Kingsley, against hippopotamus and cannibals

I begin this section "the life of" with a surprising woman: Mary Kingsley, born in the claustrophobic Victorian society. She changed the direction of her life, and decided to make her dreams come true.

Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) was born in Islington (London). Her father was a doctor, and fell in love with his maid. Four days before Mary was born, they married.
Mary Kingsley's uncle was the famous novelist Charles Kingsley.
Mary's mother was disabled. So Mary spent a long part of her life looking after her. Her only entertainment was reading the many books her father had in his library.

She was a great self-taught woman. And without academic studies, she became one of the XIX century biggest authorities about Occidental Africa.

She did what was expected from her until the death of her parents. But when she was 30 years old, she started a new life. Her destination: Africa.

She travels to Africa with the excuse of finishing one of his father's book about rituals and fetishes. She lives with tribes of Congo, Zaire... to get information about their religious beliefs.

And she travels. Travels so much... And writes abouts her travels showing a great sense of humor, so her stories became very famous in the London society. In her travels she collects insects and plants that were sent to the British Museum and were very appreciated.

With an umbrella in her hand and wearing heavy Victorian robes, she went through swamps full of crocodiles. Trying to get away from a tornado, she climbed a 4085 meters high mountain. She also encountered cannibal tribes.
When an hippopotamus was trying to sink her boat, Mary stroked its ear with the umbrella. The hippopotamus turned away. Mary said in one of her writings that at last, that stupid umbrella had an use.

When she was 37 years old, she died of fever when she was working as volunteer nurse. Her remains were thrown to the sea.

Both her life and her writings were the incentive for many woman to try the same things.
Mary was an enterprising and fearless woman.
Thank you Mary Kingsley for being this way.

If you wonder what made Mary Kingsley exchange the comfortable London society for Africa, this video gives you some clues.

-Emma Alvarez-

© 2008 by Emma Alvarez. Link to this post without copying the text.

Some Related Posts: If you liked this post, subscribe to Emma Alvarez Site
give yourself a gift
Stumble Upon Stumble it!
AddThis Social Bookmark Button Add to Technorati Favorites


jOolian said... do you find these little gems..?... lovely story. ~julian

Emma Alvarez said...

I like reading very much. Sometimes I have read a book a day. I met Mary Kingsley through a book by a writer called Cristina Morato a year ago. And I liked the story so much.

bhupinder1066 said...

i love travelling... and this is a nice experience to read ur post... just keep providing just like that... thnks... all the best!!


Emma Alvarez said...

Thank you Sam! Mary was a brave woman.

Post a Comment