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John Hanning Speke (1827-1864), Explorer in Africa

Sitter in 6 portraits
After an eventful military career, Speke joined Richard Burton on expeditions to Somalia (1854-55) and the uncharted region of the east African lakes (1856-59). He was the first European to see Lake Victoria, which he christened in honour of Queen Victoria, and conceived the idea that the lake was the source of the Nile. His theory was rejected by Burton and a bitter public dispute ensued. On a second expedition to the lake (1860 -63), Speke visited the Ripon Falls. However, critics remained unconvinced because Speke had not circumnavigated the lake nor followed the river's full course. On the 15 September 1864, the day before a scheduled public debate with Burton, Speke died in shooting accident.

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John Hanning Speke

by Southwell Brothers
sepia carbon print, 1863
NPG P658


John Hanning Speke

by Louis Gardie
plaster cast of bust, 1864
On display on the Staircase Hall at Bodelwyddan Castle
NPG 1739


John Hanning Speke

by John Beattie
albumen carte-de-visite, 1863
NPG x26067


John Hanning Speke

by Disdéri
albumen carte-de-visite, circa 1863
NPG x14795


John Hanning Speke

by Sir Aubrey John Dean Paul, 3rd Bt
albumen carte-de-visite, 1863
NPG x14794


John Hanning Speke

by Thomas Rodger
albumen carte-de-visite, circa 1863
NPG x46684