Speke, John Hanning

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Speke, John Hanning

(spēk), 1827–64, English explorer in Africa. He joined Sir Richard Burton in his expeditions to Somaliland (1854) and to E central Africa (1857–59). Together they discovered (1858) Lake Tanganyika; then Speke continued alone and discovered Lake Victoria, which he believed to be a source of the Nile. In 1862 he returned to the lake and proved that the Victoria Nile issues from the north end over Ripon Falls. He wrote Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863).


See biography by A. Maitland (1971).

Speke, John Hanning


Born May 4, 1827, in Jordans, Somersetshire; died Sept. 15,1864, in Bath. English explorer of Africa. Speke accompanied R. F. Burton on expeditions to Somaliland (1854–55) and East Africa (1856–59). Burton and Speke discovered Lake Tanganyika, and Speke independently discovered Lake Victoria. Between 1860 and 1863, Speke and J. Grant made a number of significant discoveries. The two men discovered the Kagera River, the main tributary of Lake Victoria. They discovered the outlet of the Nile from Lake Victoria and from there traced the Nile’s path to the Mediterranean Sea. This journey finally resolved the problem of the river’s source and its entire course.


Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. New York, 1922.
What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. Edinburgh-London, 1864.


Gornung, M. B., I. G. Lipets, and I. N. Oleinikov. Istoriia otkrytiia iissledovaniia Afriki. Moscow, 1973.
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