A Historical and Philosophical Sketch of the Discoveries and Settlements of the Europeans in Norther and Western Africa (Cambridge Library Collection - African Studies) by John Leyden (Author)
Cambridge, September 22, 2011
Paperback – 402 pages
Although he had never set foot in Africa, Scottish poet and linguist John Leyden (1775-1811) decided to publish in 1799 this compilation on 'discoveries and settlements' there, drawing from the published works of explorers. His aim was 'to exhibit the progress of discoveries at this period in North and West Africa', giving descriptions of places such as Guinea, the Gold Coast, and Sierra Leone, as well as accounts of their people. He begins the work by discussing a meeting of the African Association on 9 June 1788, where a map depicted the interior of the continent as 'an extended blank'. Leyden attempts to provide information on those unknown areas by using the travel accounts of writers - including the Scots explorer Mungo Park - who had ventured into the African interior, to put together a narrative which makes this work a valuable collection of eighteenth-century accounts by European explorers in Africa.