James Bruce (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Bruce explored extensively along the Blue Nile and in Ethiopia, and his endeavors did much to direct European attention to the interior of Africa in the late eighteenth century.
The son of a Scots laird whose unpretentious home at Kinnaird, in Stirlingshire, looked out over the Forth, James Bruce was born on December 14, 1730. His childhood—indeed his entire life—was marked by an extraordinary number of problems, yet early unhappiness was a primary motivating factor for his travels. His mother died when he was a baby, and his father, David Bruce, quickly remarried. The younger Bruce was never close to his sire, but one suspects that he inherited some of his sense of adventure from a man who had been a participant in the Jacobite uprising of 1715, and who was lucky to escape with his life.
A sickly youth, Bruce began his formal education in London and enrolled at the noted English public school, Harrow, a few years later. Subsequent study at the University of Edinburgh made him an intellectually well-rounded man. In some ways he was a fine example of the Scottish Enlightenment, but his lonely childhood, spent almost entirely away from home, tended toward the creation of a cold, aloof individual who later evinced a certain lack of humanity. This is understandable given the way trouble continued to plague him. He was ill during much of his time at the university, but a much...
(The entire section is 1693 words.)
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