Justin D. Livingstone (Queen’s University Belfast), author
Livingstone Online is delighted to announce the publication of a major critical edition of Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript (1857).
Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa is the result of Livingstone’s sixteen years’ residence in south-central Africa and his celebrated transcontinental journey from Angola to Mozambique between 1852 and 1856. The book is also Livingstone’s major literary accomplishment. It serves as the primary statement of both his personal objectives and his theories about the future prospects of southern Africa. Following publication, the book became one of the most influential works on Africa in the mid-Victorian period.
Livingstone Online’s newest edition offers unique insight into the creation of Livingstone’s bestselling book by focusing on the literary manuscript of Missionary Travels. This manuscript – which consists of over 1,100 handwritten pages – has never before been published, but is now made publicly available in the form of digital images and critically encoded transcriptions.
The Missionary Travels manuscript captures a key moment in the book’s development by revealing how Livingstone and his publisher, John Murray III, transformed the experiences of the field into a polished narrative of exploration for public circulation. The numerous instances of correction and redaction across the manuscript’s three volumes provide critical evidence of the composition, revision, and editorial practices that shaped the book as it was prepared for publication.
“Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript (1857): A Critical Edition” was made possible by the generous provision of manuscript images from key archival repositories: the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland), the David Livingstone Centre (Blantyre, Scotland), and the Brenthurst Library (Johannesburg, South Africa). The project directors (Justin D. Livingstone and Adrian S. Wisnicki) are grateful to these institutions and to the various funding bodies that provided financial support. The National Trust for Scotland’s David Livingstone 200 initiative (2013), the Marc Fitch Fund (2014), the Strathmartine Trust (2016), and the Modern Humanities Research Association (2016) all awarded grants that funded crucial phases of development.
Our edition offers a much fuller account of the collaborative making of Missionary Travels than in previous scholarship, and so opens a new window on both expeditionary authorship and expeditionary publishing practices in the nineteenth century. The key features of the edition include:
- encoded and annotated transcriptions of over 1,100 manuscript pages, accompanied by high-resolution digital images;
- a multi-text viewing option, permitting users to compare the published Missionary Travels with the original manuscript;
- a range of associated manuscript and print materials, including maps, letters, engraver’s proofs, and magic lantern slides;
- five detailed critical essays that, in turn:
- provide an overview of the Missionary Travels manuscript;
- outline the textual principles and encoding practices developed for the edition;
- investigate the advantages that digital technologies bring to the task of editing a Victorian travel manuscript;
- trace Livingstone’s composition practices and the publication of Missionary Travels;
- compare the manuscript and published version of the book to determine the major patterns of revision and redaction that occurred between draft and print;
- and outreach worksheets for school pupils aged 9-13.
Over the coming months several additional features will be added to the edition, including illustrative images, a complete Glossary of Key Terms, and a Project History. As a result, we anticipate releasing the formal first edition later in 2019.
“Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript” is the result of research and development over a six-year period, the longest time given to any edition currently published by Livingstone Online. Many individuals contributed to the project throughout its duration. We are grateful for the Murray family’s considerable interest and for Nigel Banks’s development of Livingstone Online which helped to make this project possible. Finally, the committed work of Dr Kate Simpson and Dr Stephen Hall, leaders of the scholarship support team, deserves special thanks (see Simpson’s blog post about her time on the project as MHRA Research Associate).