"it was not a blank space any more"
Reade's 'Map of African Literature' (1873) showing exploration routes
Public DomainReade's 'Map of African Literature' (1873) showing exploration routes - Credit: William Winwood Reade
Map showing the travels and discoveries of David Livingstone in Africa (1873)
Public DomainMap showing the travels and discoveries of David Livingstone in Africa (1873) - Credit: David Livingstone

Conrad goes in to more detail in his essay ‘Geography and Some Explorers’, describing the explorers whose discoveries helped map the previously uncharted regions of the African interior. In Conrad’s lifetime, David Livingstone had inscribed in that 'blank space' Lake Ngami (1849), the Victoria Falls (1885), the central Zambesi valley (1853-6), Lake Nyasa (1859), and the river Lualaba (1871). The 1858-9 expedition of Burton and Speke added Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria to the map. In his essay, Conrad recalls the particular excitement as a boy of entering Tanganyika ‘on the blank of my old atlas’.

 

To the Mountains of the Moon: Mapping African Exploration, 1541-1880