The Quiet Adventures: The Origins of the Royal Geographical Society May Lie in the Exploration of Africa, but It Went on to Support Countless Lower-Profile Expeditions to All Four Corners of the Globe, as Is Illustrated by These Images from the RGS-IBG Archives

Article excerpt

"To those bred under an elaborate social order few such moments of exhilaration can come as that which stands at the threshold of wild travel. The gates of the enclosed garden are thrown open, the chain at the entrance of the sanctuary is lowered, and with a wary glance to right and left you step forth, and behold! The immeasurable world. The world of adventure and of enterprise, dark with hurrying storms, glittering in raw sunlight, an unanswered question and an Unanswerable doubt hidden in the fold of every hill. Into it you must go alone ..."

Gertrude Bell described these feelings of anticipation in her book The Desert and the Sown, an account of her solo trip across the Syrian Desert from Jericho to Antioch in 1905. Although the Golden Age of Exploration had come to a close by the time Bell set off, there was still plenty going on around this time.

The likes of Cook, Park, Livingstone and Speke had made their dramatic discoveries. Now it was the turn of a new, quiet adventurer to carry on the tradition. While their more modest work was never going to hit the front pages, it was still considered important enough to receive the backing of such bodies as the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute. …


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