David Livingstone (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Although Livingstone is often thought of primarily as a missionary, in truth he was singularly unsuccessful in this endeavor. His actual importance was as an explorer whose travels, together with moving appeals asking Britons to do something about the slave trade in the African interior, focused the eyes of the civilized world on the “dark continent.”
David Livingstone, the son of an impoverished tea vendor who was more interested in distributing religious tracts than selling tea, was born in Blantyre, near Glasgow, on March 19, 1813. Although he grew up in a very large family under adverse economic circumstances, Livingstone managed, even though he began working in a cotton mill at the age of ten, to secure a solid education. He accomplished this by studying in every spare moment, and, while still in his teens, he determined to become a medical missionary.
His preparations for such a career were successful, and when he completed his medical studies and became Dr. Livingstone in 1840, he was already unusual: It was simply unheard-of for a factory boy from a poverty-stricken background to achieve such educational heights. Livingstone’s original intention had been to serve in China, but the outbreak of the Opium War effectively ended this plan. Instead, he sought and won an assignment from the nondenominational London Missionary Society in South Africa. He reached Cape Town...
(The entire section is 1891 words.)
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