by Sue Buchanan
Just over 200 years ago, in 1810, a 30-year-old Englishman named William Burchell landed in Cape Town after a four-year stint as a naturalist on St Helena island. The following year he embarked on an epic journey through the Cape Colony, which lasted four years and during which he covered 7 000 kilometres, mainly through unexplored terrain, and collected over 50 000 plant and animal specimens, as well as built up a vast collection of sketches and paintings. He went on to travel in Brazil, and after many years back in Britain, he committed suicide at the age of 82. Burchell’s travels tells the story of Burchell’s journeys, bringing to life an important figure who has faded into historical obscurity. It is a fascinating account of what travel was like 200 years ago – reconstructed from the rich source of Burchell’s own writings. Beautifully illustrated with over 100 of Burchell’s sketches and paintings, this is a perfect book for anyone interested in history, art, nature and travel.