A Life of Exploration and Adventure: Highlights from the Library of John and Suzanne Bonham

Launch Slideshow

This wonderful library of world exploration and travel, which features in The Library of John and Suzanne Bonham sale in London on 26 September, ranges from the 17th to the 20th century and contains rare books, letters, photographs, maps and drawings. The library includes albums of travel photographs, a pair of original Antarctic sketches by James Weddell, a belt from polar explorer Captain Oates and two large mahogany bookcases which belonged to African explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Click ahead to see highlights from the sale.

The Library of John and Suzanne Bonham
London | 26 September 2017

A Life of Exploration and Adventure: Highlights from the Library of John and Suzanne Bonham

  • George Murray Levick, Photograph showing Adélie penguin on the ice foot at Cape Adare, circa 1911. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    Dr. George Murray Levick studied Adélie penguins during the ill-fated British Antarctic expedition (Terra Nova), 1910-1913. He produced the four-page pamphlet Sexual habits of the Adélie penguin with his findings, which was declined for publication due to its shocking contents. Douglas Russell, curator at the Natural History Museum comments:  "It's just full of accounts of sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex, and finishes with an account of what he considers homosexual behaviour, and it was fascinating."

  • Richard Francis Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah, 1855-1856. Estimate £4,000–6,000.
    Burton was the first English Christian to enter Mecca and the first European to travel between the holy cities of Islam by the Eastern route. On 11 September he reached Mecca where he performed all the rituals of the Hajj. He was deeply moved by the great sermon which concludes the Pilgrimage. ''I have seen,'' he wrote ''religious ceremonies of many lands, but never - nowhere aught so solemn, so impressive as this spectacle''.

  • Charles Darwin, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of his Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, 1839. Estimate £15,000–20,000.
    The official account of the voyages of the Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. The third volume is Darwin's Journal and Remarks, his own account of the Beagle's voyage, and his first published book - it is an outstanding account of natural history exploration which described the fieldwork which ultimately led to The Origin of Species. “The voyage of the ‘Beagle’ has been by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career… I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind" (Life and Letters, 1:61).

  • Ernest Shackleton, The South Polar Times, 1907-1914 and 2010. Estimate £5,000–7,000.
    A beautiful facsimile set of The South Polar Times, the southernmost newspaper ever produced. It was produced by the men of Robert Scott's two journeys to Antarctica: the Discovery expedition of 1901–04, and the Terra Nova expedition of 1910–13. Also included is a facsimile of the fourth volume produced during the winter of 1912 in Scott's hut in Cape Evans.

  • Henry Morton Stanley, Two mahogany bookcases. Estimate £800–1,000 and £1,500–2,000.
    Two large bookcases once belonging to the great African explorer Henry Morgan Stanley. He is especially noted for his travels in central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley supposedly asked, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" The bookcases were acquired by Stanley in the 1890s to accommodate his growing country house library.

  • David Livingstone. Autograph letter signed, to an unidentified recipient (possibly Robert Cooke, John Murray's partner), announcing the completion of the manuscript of Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries. Estimate £1,000–1,500.
    The Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi and Its Tributaries was David Livingstone’s account of his second of three great African voyages. It was on this journey that Livingstone would, in 1859, reach and name Lake Nyasa. This, however, was arguably the only notable success of the voyage. Long and costly, producing disappointing scientific results and resulting in the deaths of several members of the expedition, revealed Livingstone as “out of his mind and a most unsafe leader”. Livingstone’s Zambesi expedition was a stark contrast to his first journey which had established him as an explorer and national celebrity.


We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.