Burton's Writings

Sir Richard Francis Burton wrote some twenty-nine major works that were published during his lifetime, as well as a great number of shorter papers and monographs and several works that did not see print until after his death.

This section, relying first on the established bibliographic work of Norman Penzer and James A. Casada but most firmly on data from the individual works themselves, will list every known Burton writing of significance. Where possible, electronic versions of each work will be included (or linked to, if elsewhere available), as will the content of all relevant commentary and critique of each work, including new analysis that arises as part of this overall project.

There are any number of systems by which Burton's writings and published works might be listed and organized. A simple chronological list is one option, but for whatever linear picture of Burton's efforts that provides, it does not distinguish between areas of interest — and Burton had many diverse areas of interest — and it does not fully accommodate works written at one time and published much later.

Therefore, I have elected to group Burton's works by category and then by date of creation. Where publication dates are greatly different than the year of creation, the disparity will be noted.

Each entry's bibliographic information including title, subtitle if any, exact author name, etc. is taken directly from the original published book, spelling, order and punctuation intact. It was the practice of most publishers to typeset title information in caps or small caps; I have taken the liberty of converting these to title case to ease readability. Unless specified, the data is from the first edition of the work. In a few cases where the complete front matter was not available or pages were missing from the reference copy, data has been taken from Penzer or Casada and this secondary reference noted.

For the time being, all works will be listed on this single page. As the list grows in length and detail and becomes cumbersome to view, it will be split into a hierarchy of pages.

Travel, Exploration & Ethnology

Other than the vastly famous translations of the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights, Burton is most widely known for his books on travel and exploration. Nearly all of these books included extensive notes about the races, tribes and peoples of the region, and a few were specifically ethnographic texts with travel and geography relegated to a secondary (but never omitted) role.

Goa, and the Blue Mountains

or, Six Months of Sick Leave

Richard F. Burton, Lieut. Bombay Army

London: Richard Bentley, 1851

19 chapters, x+368 pages, several plates

Dedication: Miss Elizabeth Stisted

Burton's first three books were written and published almost simultaneously, giving the first hint of the prolific documentation and exposition habits that would characterize the scholarly side of his life.

The dedication is to his cousin-in-law (the daughter of his sister's husband's brother), who he romanced in the same era as his early interest in Isabel Arundell.

A condensed version of this book, comprised of the first four chapters, was published in 1890.


or, The Unhappy Valley

Richard F. Burton, Lieut. Bombay Army

London: Richard Bentley, 1851

Two volumes

Vol. 1: 14 chapters, viii+298 pages, several plates

Vol. 2: 14 chapters, vi+310 pages, several plates

Dedication: Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Scott

Burton's second book


and The Races That Inhabit The Valley Of The Indus;
with Notices Of The Topography And History Of The Province

Richard F. Burton, Lieutenant Bombay Army

London: Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1851

8 chapters, viii+422 pages, index, several plates

Dedication: The Honourable The Court Of Directors of The East India Company

(Bibliographic data from Penzer)

Burton's third book

According to Penzer, Burton's copy contains numerous notes and additions for a second edition. The added material may have been “suppressed for political reasons” in the first edition.

Falconry in the Valley of the Indus

Richard F. Burton, Lieut. Bombay Army.

London: John Van Voorst, 1852

8 chapters, xiv+108 pages, several plates

Dedication: His Most Gracious Majesty William III, King of the Netherlands

Burton's fourth book is dedicated to the King of the Netherlands, a noted aficionado of the exotic sport of falconry.

Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah.

Richard F. Burton, Captain Bombay Army.

Two volumes [Second Edition; First Edition was issued in three volumes, 1855]

Vol. 1: 20 chapters, xviii+418 pages, several plates

Vol. 2: 15 chapters+6 appendices, index, several plates, xvi+422 pages

London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans and Roberts, 1857

Dedication (Vol 1): Colonel William Sykes

Dedication (Vol 2): Lieut.-General W. Montheith

Possibly Burton's most famous travel journal, matched only by the report on the expedition to seek the source of the Nile. The Pilgrimage has the advantage of being almost wholly unclouded by the controversies and uncertainty of the later expedition.

There were four editions of this work issued in Burton's lifetime: the original three-volume first edition in 1855; the two-volume second edition in 1857; and the slightly revised third edition in 1879. There was also a German-published edition with the contents somewhat rearranged. Several posthumous editions including a Memorial Edition followed as well, and through reprint houses like Dover, it remains in print and available today.

First Footsteps in East Africa;

or, An Exploration of Harar.

Richard F. Burton, Bombay Army

London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856

10 chapters, appendices, index, several plates, xliv+648 pages

Dedication: The Honorable James Grant Lumsden

Burton's account of his second great city pilgrimage, this time to the “forbidden” city of Harar.

Burton's thirty-page preface

Central Lake Regions (report)

Central Lake Regions (book)

West Africa

Gorilla Land

Gold Coast

Ultima Thule

Poetry, Verse & Fable


Stone Talk

Wit and Wisdom of West Africa


Camoens (6 vol)



Alf Layla wa Layla

Military Matters

A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise.

Richard F. Burton, Lieutenant Bombay Army

London: William Clowes and Sons, 1853

8 chapters, 38 pages

One of Burton's rarest books.


System of Sword?

Book of the Sword



Kama Sutra



Perfumed Garden (2 translations)


Il Decamerone


Page Updated 2008-07-23


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