David Livingstone, a Scottish physician (hence, Dr Livingstone), spent the better part of six years mapping the Zambezi river during 1851-56, crossing central Africa; among much else, he either discovered Victoria Falls, or visited Mosi-o-Tunya, according to how long ago your history book was printed, and in which country. By the time his missions finally cost his life, in 1873, he had become a Great Victorian: his body was buried, after one final epic voyage, in Westminster Abbey, and his heart beneath a tree in what is now Zambia.

Livingstone's Missionary Travels, published by John Murray from sixteen years of the explorer's diaries, were to the Victorians what Hakluyt's Voyages had been to the Elizabethans, opening up a new continent for the armchair traveller. Their publication was a far from simple editorial task, with a wealth of original documents, drawings and even magic lantern slides, and this task has now been retraced by the Livingstone Online project.

Just as a taste of Livingstone's handwritten journal, and perhaps also of the challenges it posed to Murray's publishing house in 1857, here he's describing goat's cheese (fol. 7):

The Bechuanas put their milk into leathern sacks made of untanned hide with the hair taken off - Hung in the sun it soon coagulates [whey] the way whey is then drawn off by a plug at the bottom & fresh milk added untill the whole is sack is full of a thick sour curd which when one becomes used to it is delicious - The Rich mix this in the porridge into which they covert their meal - and as it is thus nutritious and strength giving the ˄ an expression of scorn is sometimes heard respecting the poor or weak ^ [to the effect that] "they are mere water porridge men - It occupies the place of our Roast beef

Livingstone Online was and is a monumental editorial challenge, spread already over six years, and certainly not the work of mere water porridge men. MHRA is pleased to have lent some support through our Research Associateship programme; our contribution was to fund the work of Justin Livingstone. (As he must by now have had to explain thousands of times, he is no relation to David.)

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