Hugh Clapperton was one of Africa's greatest 19th-century explorers. Seemingly forgotten for years, he is now brought to life in Jamie Bruce Lockhart's magnificent new biography. Clapperton was born in Annan in the Scottish borders in 1788 into a family typical of the Scottish Enlightenment and Borders region - gentry with strong traditions of serving in the armed forces, the medical profession and the Church. He was well educated but, scorning family tradition, he went to sea in 1802 as a junior deckhand in the merchant navy. Clapperton, like many Scots of his generation, saw service at sea as the path to fame and riches in the British Empire. However, his Royal Naval career began with disaster when he was impressed into service in 1806, but he escaped, joined a privateer, escaped again and finally returned to the Royal Navy. He served with distinction as a petty officer during the Napoleonic Wars in the Mediterranean and the East Indies, and on the Great Lakes of Canada in the war with the United States, where he gained his lieutenant's commission before being discharged on half-pay in 1817. Boredom and thirst for adventure spurred him to exploration and great achievement in Africa. He participated in two government missions to map the Niger and the vast unexplored hinterland of the Guinea coast, and had command of the second - an important first diplomatic mission to a region of huge potential for Britain's burgeoning political and commercial imperial interests. Jamie Bruce Lockhart has retraced Clapperton's footsteps and takes the reader through forest, desert and extremes of climate. In this vivid and sympathetic biography the reader witnesses Clapperton's adventures, hopes, fears, misfortunes and his ultimately lonely fate.
Sailor in the Sahara, A
The Life and Travels in Africa of Hugh Clapperton, Commander RN