Search the Collection
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.