Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Royal Geographical Society


By Kristy McCaffrey



Established in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) is the United Kingdom’s professional body for geography and the advancement of geographical sciences. It began as a dining club in London, where select members held informal dinner debates on current scientific issues and ideas. It was long associated with the ‘colonial’ exploration of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the polar regions, and especially central Asia.

The Society was a supporter of many notable explorers. Here are a few.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a naturalist, geologist and biologist, and is best known for his theories on the science of evolution, specifically that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and natural selection.

Richard Francis Burton

Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was an explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. The RGS contracted him to explore the east coast of Africa, and he was one of the first Europeans to search for the source of the Nile River.

David Livingstone

David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a Scottish physician, Congregationalist, a pioneer Christian missionary, and African explorer. Taking up where Burton left off, he also attempted to locate the source of the Nile, although he too never pinpointed it. His meeting with Henry Morton Stanley was the source of the famous phrase, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) was a polar explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. He lost the race to the South Pole to Roald Amundsen, so he focused on a sea-to-sea crossing of Antarctica, which he unfortunately never achieved. He is most famous for a daring ocean crossing in lifeboats after his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in ice.

Percy Fawcett

Percy Fawcett (1867-disappeared 1925) was a geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist, and explorer of South America. At the age of 39, he was contracted by the RGS to map a border area of Brazil and Bolivia. After seven expeditions to South America, he became certain that a great city lay lost in the jungle. In 1925, he made his last attempt to find the Lost City of Z, but disappeared, along with his son and a family friend. Theories abound that local Indians killed them or that they died from natural causes.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. In 1953, he became the first climber, along with the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Today the Society has over 16,500 members and its work reaches millions of people each year through publications, research groups and lectures.

Connect with Kristy



13 comments:

  1. Kristy, this is fascinating. I have heard of most of these men, but I didn't know about the Royal Geographic Society! So many discoveries, and all because of the idea of getting people to go exploring the different things on our planet. I love this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A selection of my personal heroes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "...to boldly go where no one has gone before..." Explorers had to have a combination of personality traits: wanderlust/adventure, insatiable curiosity, and determination along with the tendency to look death in the eye and laugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is probably why I love Star Trek so much!! And I've spent many hours/days/months trying to figure out the mindset of an explorer, so that I can imbue my characters with those traits.

      Delete
  4. It takes a person with grit, personality and determination to do what people like those mentioned in this blog. Thank you for for helping to keep their stories alive. Doris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Studying them has always fascinated me, and it has certainly given me ideas for stories and characters.

      Delete
  5. It's so interesting to read about this society which had so many famous members. I can't even begin to imagine the courage it took to explore the jungles and the Arctic. I remember being caught up with the explorations of David Livingstone in school, but never heard about Percy Fawcett and his unknown fate. I wonder if his explorations inspired Edward Rice Burroughs to write Tarzan and the City of Gold. I read and reread that book when I was a kid. Thanks for bringing these gentlemen back into our thoughts, Kristy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure that Burroughs was aware of many of these men. They were icons, legends, and a little bit crazed too LOL.

      Delete
  6. Fascinating. Burton was a particularly interesting and complex character. Livingston's house in Scotland had an authentic African hut in his garden. I know the police officer who recovered it, in a local theif's garden, using it as a garden shed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, great tidbits of info. I love it. Burton was quite a character. There's an excellent 1990 movie made about him and Speke (his friend, partner, and nemesis) called 'Mountains of the Moon.' It's a favorite of mine.

      Delete
  7. I did not know about the Royal Geographical Society. What a bunch of riveting members each with their own individual explorations, findings, and experiences. Now I want to know what happened to Percy Fawcett, his son, and friend who disappeared on an expedition to South America.
    What an interesting blog loaded with juicy bits of info, Kristy. I loved it!

    ReplyDelete