David Livingstone was a protestant missionary and a legendary explorer of the African continent, who was to become one of the most popular national heroes of Britain in the late 19th century.
Born 1813 in Scotland, Livingstone grew up in poor conditions and was at the age of 10, working 12-hour days at a local cotton mill. Encouraged to get a good education, David went on to study medicine, followed by studies at the London Missionary Society.
Livingstone’s travels to Africa between 1841 and 1873 have been well documented and after being posted to Africa first as a medical missionary in 1841, he was to make several travels to the ‘Dark Continent’ over the course of the next 30 years.
His expeditions brought the West significant amount of knowledge about previously unknown parts of Africa. Livingstone was to be the first European to see the awe-inspiring Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”) waterfall during one of his early journeys inland in 1849, renaming it Victoria Falls. He was also the first European to cross the width of southern Africa, after completing his ambitious four-year expedition.
In 1871, the explorer was thought to be lost, so fellow explorer and journalist Henry Stanley was sent to Africa to find Livingstone. Their first encounter was the source of the now famous phrase; ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’
David Livingstone died from dysentery and malaria in North Rhodesia (modern-day Zambia) on 1 May 1873, at the age of 60. His body was later buried at Westminster Abbey, England.