Catalogue - Reprints (Africana - Hunting)

A Hunter's Life in South Africa
Vols. 1 & 2
By R. Gordon Cumming

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John Murray, London, 1850, two vols.
Reprints: Vol 1, xxxviii, 389pp., 6 illus., 1 map; new frontispiece, new Introduction and Bibliographical Note by Prof. James a. Casada. ISBN (Std) 0 86920 209 X, (Dlx) 0 86920 210 3
Vol. 2, xx, 381pp., 11 illus. ISBN (Std) 0 86920 211 1, (Dlx) 0 86920 212 X


A particularly fine example of Victorian sporting literature, this work was markedly succesful and ran into many editions. Gordon Cumming writes of his hunting expedition which started from Grahamstown in October 1843 and which took him through country-side teeming with game - "... 'one vast herd' of springboks; as far as the eye could strain..." - to the Orange river and the Griqualand West where he met Oswell, and, at Kuruman, Robert Moffat and, soon after, David Livingstone.

He appears to have hunted every species of South Africa fauna and to have indulged himself in the sport to an extent almost unique even amongst the mighty hunters of Africa. The narrative is valuable for its description of the country and its inhabitants, and for its zoological and botanical notes.

Over six feet tall and weighing fourteen stone, Gording Cumming, who became widely known as 'The Lion Hunter', was a man of splendid physique and great physical strength. Never one to bow to convention, he astonished the Dutchmen as he "wore neither trousers nor leggings, and went about in a kind fo kilt, leaving the legs bare."

In 1843 he joined the Cape Mounted Rifles in South Africa. But a military career was not for him and after partcipating in one operation on the Eastern Frontier he set out on his hunting expedition into the interior.

Returning to Britain in 1848, he devoted himself to writing and in 1851 a selection of his hunting trophies went on display at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.

Within ten years of his return from South Africa he set up his own permanent museum at Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal where he died on 24 March 1866.


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