Talk:Richard Francis Burton

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Former good article Richard Francis Burton was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.


I have archived earlied discussions (pre 2006) on this page. Talk:Richard Francis Burton/Archive --Richard Clegg 14:26, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Modern Editions[edit]

Are there no modern reprints of his works? I'm willing to read his translations of Camões, but not to pay 5.000 dollars for it. 00:39, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Only his more famous works are in reprint. He wrote so many books that it is inevitable most are not. I suspect the translations you are after are not currently being reprinted though I could not say for sure. --Richard Clegg 20:27, 2 April 2006 (UTC)


The article says he could not read it, however, Rice reports he did study it, as well as Gujarati, with the famed nagar brahmin. He also translated himself the Vikram and the Vampire tales, which is a very strong indicative of his Sanskrit knowledge.

Yes, this issue is still there, as it's listed among the languages he could speak. Λυδαcιτγ 05:04, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Dates of birth and death[edit]

Are you sure that these are correct? I don't think so. You can read my article Coins of Somaliland for further details. - (Aidan Work 00:08, 8 January 2006 (UTC))

I checked against the Lovell biography and they are correct except the death date which is contraversial and may have been the day after the one listed above (it is unclear if he died on the evening of the 19th or the morning of the 20th. --Richard Clegg 21:01, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Clarification as the first non-Muslim European...[edit]

Although Burton was not the first European to make the Hajj (that honor belonging to Ludovico di Barthema in 1503 [3]), his pilgrimage is the most famous and the best documented.

Inaccurate. Islam existed in the Iberian peninusla from 750-1492AD. Thousands, if not millions, of European Muslims would have made the Hajj in that time period. Needless to say, I edited it. Artichoke84 18:51, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Potential reorganisation of page[edit]

I added detail about the Kama Sutra (weird that it was missing, presumably because the article at some distant point was taken from the 1911 Britannica). However, the article is now a bit long (my fault, I've been adding lots). I think it would be sensible to hive off some of the bits into separate articles. Would it be reasonable to have the sections I wrote on the Kama Shastra Society and on Burton and Speke moved to separate articles? --Richard Clegg 13:03, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Burton and reglion[edit]

User:Taz Manchester listed Richard Francis Burton as a "convert to Islam" -- I am not sure about this. In the Lovell biography "A rage to live" page 84, she states "It has often been said, even recently, that at heart Richard was a Muslim, that he accepted the Muslim faith and lived by it throughout his life. My conclusion is that this is to exaggerate reality. Burton investigated Islam thoroughly, as he did Catholicism and other forms of Christian religion... he regarded his observance of Islam as the means to an end rather than a statement of faith." I would add that he had (at the insistence of his wife) signed a letter saying that he would enter the Catholic faith on his death bed (and, indeed, he had the last rites performed). I hope nobody minds that I have removed this category for now. --Richard Clegg 18:04, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The First Englishman to Mecca[edit]

I don't think he was Burton -- although he remains the best-known Englishman to have made the Hajj. I believe a person by the name of Joseph Pitts (flourished 16th C, I believe), who had been captured in a sea battle & made a slave was the first. It was not his intent to go: his master decided to make the pilgrimage, & since Pitts had been coerced into converting to Islam he was brought along too. Source: Foster, William, Sir, ed. The Red Sea and adjacent countries at the close of the seventeenth century as described by Joseph Pitts, William Daniel, and Charles Jacques Poncet. London: Hakluyt Society, 1949. 2nd series, vol. 100. -- llywrch 21:06, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks -- fixed. confirms what you say. --Richard Clegg 22:49, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

There is also a famous Spanish explorer who travelled to the Meca before Burton: Domenech Badia, also known as Ali Bey al-Abbasi, at 1806 or 1807. He wasn't English, but from Europe anyway. Is it OK adding him to this article? Source: and his own autobiography (see more information at the same Wikipedia site).

Failed GA[edit]

No references in the first half of the article. With proper citation, however, this could be featured. savidan(talk) (e@) 04:27, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

I have now added such references -- I also fixed the quotes you moved to wikiquote (in general, moving text to wikiquote breaks lots of things). I hope you would not mind me resubmitting the article as a good article. --Richard Clegg 10:22, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
I replied on my talk page. savidan(talk) (e@) 19:14, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Good Article[edit]

I think with the added references, less obtrusive reference style and expansion of the mention of his fighting skills, this is now of Good Article standard. Congrats to Richard Clegg and all other contributors. --Estarriol 16:57, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Excellent. Thanks very much for your help and suggestions. --Richard Clegg 21:43, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Failed GA again[edit]

Sorry about failing this article as good one, again, as it contains too many instances of unwikipedic POV language. To take just the last paragraph: "It is clear that these allegations and Burton's often-prickly nature could not have helped his career..." or "a man of such talents, determination and learning", or "Whatever the truth, Burton's passions and interests ensured that his life was filled with controversy and scandal." I'm afraid such pasages have been copied directly from some biographies without even editorializing. With this amount of material, the article may become a featured one, but the language must be NPOVed throughout the text. Pecher Talk 09:27, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Can you fail something as a GA just days after it was granted GA? Especially on such dubious grounds. Those words were written by me, they are not from an exisiting bio. They are completely defensible and are for the most part backed up with quotes in the text.
1) "Whatever the truth, Burton's passions and interests ensured that his life was filled with controversy and scandal." -- there is a whole section about this -- it is completely evidenced, anyone who knows about Burton would not disagree.
2) "It is clear that these allegations and Burton's often-prickly nature could not have helped his career..." -- partly backed up by the "ill-fitted to run in official harness" quote and also by the quote about allegations ruining his career.
3) "a man of such talents, determination and learning" -- the article has certainly provided evidence for his talents determination and learning.
I would strongly argue that this is not an NPOV issue. If a man learns thirty languages and writes many books we can say surely he has learning... If you want to know whether these were widely held views at the time then read the links from that section. I have removed your rewrite tag for this reason. --Richard Clegg 00:23, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, anyone and everyone has veto power in GA. I think part of the problem is in the writing style. Usually the writing style I see puts a main idea first, and then backs it up with statements. Make sure to Avoid Weasel Words; words like "allegations" or "talents" and phrases like "whatever the truth" throw up red flags in my mind, at least. Nifboy 01:14, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
*shrug* I thought that the veto part was only when something was a nomination not when it was already listed, but it is not important. In the case of the word "allegation" there is a paragraph (referenced) detailing the allegations. The very point of this section is that he was alleged to have done various things and I have provided quotes and links. This is very different to weasel words. I can't see how "whatever the truth" is in any way a "weasel words" phrase. --Richard Clegg 01:29, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
The nomination isn't important; it just keeps the main GA page a little more stable (previously, there was no nomination page and articles went directly on and off GA). The phrase "whatever the truth" seems weasely because it implies the truth of the matter isn't important. I couldn't see it being useful to put information in an encyclopedia and then turn around and say "whatever". Words like "talent" also have judgemental qualities, and it doesn't help to throw them in unless you're explicitly making a case that he's talented. Elsewhere in the article it isn't warranted because you're not talking about his talents, you're talking about something else. Nifboy 02:05, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
"The phrase 'whatever the truth' seems weasely because it implies the truth of the matter isn't important." If you look at the sentence it is saying that whether the allegations are true or not (it seems unlikely they will ever be proved one way or the other at this point, people who have studied RFB much more than me reach different conclusions) he led a controversial life because of his interests. Nobody could seriously question this. Read the sentence again -- it's pretty hard to object to it. Well, I like the sentence as it stands. I think it sums things up well, it is unquestionably true. However, it's wikipedia, if you think of a better one, change it. --Richard Clegg 02:10, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
In addition, the article contains lots of expressions like "it is clear", "of course" etc, although we should not use such expressions per Style Guide because they imply a POV and what is clear to one person is not necessarily clear to someone else. Just getting rid of these words will move the article forward by much. Pecher Talk 07:22, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, that is a reasonable point and I will attend to it. --Richard Clegg 08:53, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Does anyone still object to this being a Good Article? I think it's some way past that standard now. Great work everyone. — Estarriol talk 08:03, 28 May 2006 (UTC)


Was Burton a convert to Islam? If so, then this is significant enough to be mentioned in the article (I can't find any trace of it...) but if not he needs to be removed from Category:Islamic converts. TheGrappler 18:55, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Removed. No evidence of conversion has been presented. Pecher Talk 09:41, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
This has been discussed here before and removed once before -- see the section on the talk page "Burton and religion". --Richard Clegg 00:25, 11 April 2006 (UTC)


I removed this article from Category:Pederasty because the article really doesn't seem to fit there. Burton wrote about pederasty (and it is alleged that he practised it, but this article doesn't really explore that), but this isn't an article about pederasty - a "see also" link to pederasty would fit better, but since pederasty is wikilinked inside the article, this isn't necessary. It's been suggested that it could be moved to Category:Pederastic literature - but that doesn't work either, since this isn't an article about pederastic literature! Perhaps the most accurate description would be Category:Documentors of pederasty (as opposed to Category:Writers of pederastic literature or Category:Pederastic writers) and maybe there are some other people who could be lumped in with him there (Herodotus perhaps). I'm not entirely convinced it's a category worth making, unless there are other people who are noteworthy for their documentation of pederasty. The risk is it would subsume lots of people for whom it was just a relatively minor aspect of their life and work - in fact, I think that may be a risk here. Thoughts? TheGrappler 19:59, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it will do to be too literal here. If you will look at Category:Medieval literature you will see a bunch of author entries. This is the same situation. I also agree that Category:Pederasty is a bit vague, but Category:Pederastic literature is a good fit. Also, pederasty in his life was a major theme, he made a habit of the study of pederastic mores, it got him in trouble with the army people, and it got his wife to destroy his papers upon his death. But all this is beside the point - his "Terminal Essay" together with the Kama Sutra and other tidbits here and there in the Nights is quite enough - put together these materials are an important source of information for anyone studying pederasty, which is the whole point of entering him in one of these categories. Haiduc 22:35, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that the article discusses Burton's alleged homosexuality as much as it is reasonable to do so in an article of this size. Different biographers do come to different conclusions. For example Fawn Brodie believed he was (due to psychoanalysis of his writings) but Lovell believes he was not (and pointed out that some of the writing Brodie analysed was in fact a parody written as a woman). As for the inclusion in the category Pederasty, it is not unreasonable I suppose because he did write about his research into the subject at a time when few people would. --Richard Clegg 01:12, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I can certainly see the point. However, it is a bit of a misuse of the category system to file him under the highest pederasty category. The category system is really used for sorting articles in a way that means you can go to articles with similar characteristics, it's not meant to be a replacement for the "related articles" section. For instance, this article is sorted under "Arabic-English translators" and "Former students of Trinity College, Oxford" because it is about somebody who was an Arabic-English translator and former student of Trinity College, Oxford; if you click on those category links, you can see more people who fit the same descriptions. However, this isn't an article about pederasty, so it's really category bloat for him to be in Category:Pederasty (categories that collect a "hotch-potch" of articles generally need reorganizing). Definitely Category:Pederastic literature is an improvement. The particular difficulty I have with that is that as far as I recall and this article describes, Burton didn't write celebrations of pederasty, which is what one might naturally assume "pederastic literature" to be. I know we wouldn't put any anthropologist who has written research into pederasty into Category:Pederastic literature and doubt Burton should be treated differently. There has got to be a better way to categorize him but I'm unsure how! However, if you have a browse-about on Wikipedia, you will see that the overwhelming majority of the time, biographies of individuals are filed under "biographical" categories, and neither of the pederasty categories considered so far is a "biographical" category. My opinion is that the remaining minority of the time that individuals are filed under non-biographical categories is almost always a sign that correction is required. On a different note: if Mason is going to be sorted in Category:Freemasons there needs to be support for this in the article body. There is an alternative possibility I have just thought of regarding Burton and pederasty - it's not always true that a category is the best way to go. Certain groupings on Wikipedia are "listified" instead of categorized - in other words, there is a link at the bottom of their articles saying "See also: List of ....." and that page contains a list linking them all together. There are several occasions when this is the most satisfactory situation. A precondidtion is that the list must not be inordinately long ("List of French people" isn't going to work, for instance!). One place where the list is best is if the list is automatically complete and is not going to be expand organically; not the case here. Another is when subtle distinctions are called for (especially in sensitive areas). I think there is ample good reason to distinguish between writers like Rudi van Dantzig (writer of Voor een verloren soldaat, a novel about a pederastic relationship), writers like Ihara Saikaku (writing erotic pederastic poetry), writers like Herodotus (who documented ancient pederasty) and writers like Richard Francis Burton (writing anthropological studies of pederasty - and also there is the marginal case, translating pederastic writings from other languages, ostensibly for "research" purposes). In a list, these distinctions can be brought out, but bunching these all together as an undifferentiated mass using the category system doesn't seem to me to be optimal for article navigation or accurate (or at least specific) in the way that it sorts its members. Another advantage of listifying is that it avoids categorization by what may only have been a minor aspect of their work (if Herodotus' two main categories were Category:Ancient Greek historians and Category:Pederastic literature, it would give a very skewed view of his corpus! However, he would belong on a List of writers who have written about pederasty). Does this proposal sound any better? TheGrappler 13:37, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Noting that van Dantzig doesn't have an article yet, another advantage of lists is that red-linked names can be included, whereas he can't be put in a category! TheGrappler 13:43, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Obviously any category system will have its weakness. I am fairly willing to be guided by other people on that. On the subject of Masonry, I understand he became a mason when he was in Scinde. However, none of the biographies I have read seem to regard it as particularly important in his life. Certainly it is legitimate to include him in the category of Freemasons. I am not sure what (if anything) needs to be said about it in the article though. --Richard Clegg 13:54, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Any fact (especially a potentially controversial one) ought to have a citation. Categorizing him as a freemason is effectively stating that he is a freemason then providing no background to the claim or evidence to back it up - all it needs is a brief note in a relevant place and hopefully a reference to back it up. If it wasn't particularly important as an aspect of his life, then you can mention that too. TheGrappler 13:58, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Potentially better to remove the category for now? It's not like there aren't enough people linked on the mason's page and an article starts to look awful and cluttered if it is just irrelevant facts and links to back them up. --Richard Clegg 14:02, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, there is such a thing as category clutter! This article isn't really a useful link from Category:Freemasons either (it doesn't say anything about his freemasonic activity) and conversely Category:Freemasons doesn't seem to be an especially useful link from here... TheGrappler 14:21, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Another problem with using "Pederastic literature" as a category is it messes up the use of data-mining semantic relations. See m:Transwiki:Wikimania05/Paper-DK1 - keeping biographies in biographical categories is helpful for this purpose. TheGrappler 15:10, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Are there any biographical cats that this article should be in but isn't? --Richard Clegg 16:21, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

I believe it is misleading to suggest that pederasty played a significant role in Burton's life, study or writing. He wrote voluminously about sex and sexual practices and so, naturally, pederasty was included. But nowhere in his writings can it be said there is a disproportionate or undue focus upon it. He wrote much more frequently about female sexuality than he did about pederasty, for example. His connection to the subject is taken way out of context in this article and in this discussion, though it is fair to include the fact that unsubstantiated rumours dogged him and to discuss the source of those rumours. --MarkinNYC 1 August 2006

Two of the biographies I have read (Lovell and Brodie) suggest accusations of pederasty as potential reasons for his lack of promotion in the army after the brothel report came to light (an editor recently suggested this report may have been made up but Burton himself refers to it in his writing). Certainly I am not sure what in the article you think is "way out of context". We only have three sentences on pederasty "In particular, the Terminal Essay of the Nights was one of the first English language texts to dare address the practice of pederasty which he postulated was prevalent in an area of the southern latitudes named by him the "Sotadic zone." Rumors about Burton’s own sexuality were already circulating and were further incited by this work." and later "His later writings on the subject of pederasty and the fact that he and Isabel remained childless gave further ground for speculation." I think these are surely fine. There are three more sentences on homosexuality "Allegations of homosexuality dogged Burton throughout most of his life, a particularly serious accusation as it was a criminal offence in Victorian England. Biographers disagree on whether or not Burton genuinely was homosexual (he never directly admits to it in his writing). These allegations began in his army days when General Sir Charles James Napier requested that Burton go undercover to investigate a male brothel reputed to be frequented by British soldiers. It has been suggested that Burton's detailed report on the workings of the brothel may have led some to believe he had been a customer." --Richard Clegg 15:16, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I changed the "was homosexual" to the more accurate "preferred homosexual sex". Katzenjammer 15:34, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
A recent editor suggested there was a question whether the Sindh report existed. This is what Burton says about the matter in the Terminal Essay section D. Admittedly this was written many years later but is there any reason to doubt its veracity?
"In 1845, when Sir Charles Napier had conquered and annexed Sind, despite a fraction (mostly venal) which sought favour with the now defunct 'Court of Directors to the Honourable East India Company,' the veteran began to consider his conquest with a curious eye. It was reported to him that Karàchi, a townlet of some two thousand souls and distant not more than a mile from camp, supported no less than three lupanars or bordels, in which not women but boys and eunuchs, the former demanding nearly a double price, lay for hire. Being then the only British officer who could speak Sindi, I was asked indirectly to make enquiries and to report upon the subject; and I undertook the task on express condition that my report should not be forwarded to the Bombay Government, from whom supporters of the Conqueror's policy could expect scant favour, mercy or justice. Accompanied by a Munshi, Mirza Mohammed Hosayn of Shiraz, and habited as a merchant, Mirza Abdullah the Bushiri passed many an evening in the townlet visited all the porneia and obtained the fullest details which were duly despatched to Government House. But the 'Devil's Brother' presently quitted Sind leaving in his office my unfortunate official: this found its way with sundry other reports to Bombay and produced the expected result. A friend in the Secretariat informed me that my summary dismissal from the service had been formally proposed by one of Sir Charles Napier's successors, whose decease compels me parcere sepulto. But this excess of outraged modesty was not allowed."
--Richard Clegg 15:23, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Good Article nomination has passed[edit]

Congratulations! The Good article nomination for Richard Francis Burton has passed. Many thanks to all who were involved in the creation of this article. --SomeStranger (T | C) 16:22, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. That's great news. --Richard Clegg 16:30, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

IMDB citation[edit]

link to BBC mini-series added

The death of Speke[edit]

This article is not really the place for a detailed discussion over whether or not Speke committed suicide. However, I could not let the current version stand because it did contain some erroneous information and some misleading information. A victorian coroner would always be reluctant to conclude suicide for the sake of the family and because of the way it was considered. While some modern biographers of Burton used psychoanalytic techniques (e.g. Brodie) , others were rather scathing of such (e.g. Lovell) and still kept an open mind about Speke's death. The facts are that nobody saw what happened because nobody was looking. The best witness was a relative of Speke (and hence would have an interest in concluding no suicide) and his two best documented statements (one at the inquest and one to the Times IIRC) are completely contradictory. No witness was looking at the time of the shot. Evidence pro suicide is wholly circumstancial: the timing of the death and the fact that Speke was an experienced gunman who had used that type of weapon before. I think all that needs to be said in this article is that it is speculated. This is true. Whether he did commit suicide or not we cannot say. There is no evidence that he did or did not. I think an expanded version of this debate would certainly be suitable for the article about Speke --- perhaps the debate could be taken up there including quotes from the coroner's statement and eye witnesses? I'd be interested in contributing to that. In an article about Burton though, extended debate is out of place I think. --Richard Clegg 14:50, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Travels to Utah Territory?[edit]

I believe Richard Burton traveled to the Utah Territory and met Mormon leader Brigham Young. I seem to recall he also penned a book called Among the Saints, or something to that effect.

My memory is foggy on the topic, but perhaps someone else could add this missing information.

This is true -- it was in the late 1850s I believe. He wrote The City of the Saints as a result. The book is included although there is nothing in the article about the meeting. Is there anything in specific you'd want included? --Richard Clegg 11:56, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
I think it rather interesting that one of the more facinating explorers of the time met one of the most facinating religious leaders of the time (Brigham Young). Burton, along with many others, was interested in the sensational polygamy aspect of the Mormons which at the time was unabashedly practiced. He had encountered polygamy among the Muslims of course, and he was in an usual position to compare and contrast the two. Alas, I have not read his book City of the Saints so I cannot authoritatively write about it. But someone else should! Bigmac31 (talk) 18:13, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I realize I'm replying to a rather old discussion, but I do concur that it would be noteworthy enough to include a section about said travel. Alas, I too haven't yet read the The City of the Saints, but perhaps someone who has can fill in some details. Surv1v4l1st (Talk|Contribs) 18:41, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

"His" Title[edit]

A Thousand Nights and a Night is twice called "his" title for The Arabian Nights. In fact, it's merely a translation of the Arabic title: Alf Layla wa Layla. The Arabian Nights is folklorist Andrew Lang's title for his abridged selection. (see So I'm going to change the references. Katzenjammer 12:36, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, I don't speak Arabic, but I have read it is a "fussily literal" translation which would be more usually translated as, for example, 1001 nights -- rather like translating vingt-et-un as twenty and one. I can't comment as to whether it is true. I believe Burton/Arbuthnot were the first to use this title though. --Richard Clegg 13:23, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Whoever suggested that was a little confused. It's definitely poetic, but the poetry is in the Arabic, not the xlation: 'layla' means 'night', not 'thousand', so the Arabic is literally "1000 nights and [a] night". The title would have to be literally "1001 nights" (alf-wa-wahid layla) in Arabic for "1001 Nights" to be a more accurate translation. (I hope that wasn't too confusing) Katzenjammer 15:58, 8 October 2006 (UTC)


The Sir Richard Burton Medal Sir Richard Burton was one of the most famous and adventurous Fellows of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (est. 1823). The award was established in 1923, in conjunction with the Society's Richard Burton Memorial Lecture programme, set up earlier to mark the 100th anniversary of Burton's birth. Persons receiving the award are expected to deliver the lecture, on Burton, his travels or some related topic. Previous recipients include Freya Stark (1934) and Wilfred Thesiger (1966), Simon Digby (1999) and Professor David Snellgrove (2004).

I am a Fellow of the Society and reworked the Society's website entry <<>> a bit simply to induce you to add a note or two on this venerable award, the Burton lecture, and Burton's affiliation with the Society. Overall, you've done a fine job on this page. --JC West 18:03, 18 April 2007 (EST)--Westernesse 22:16, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Richard Burton, Hajji?[edit]

"His time in the Sindh prepared him well for his Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) ... The pilgrimage entitled him to the title of Hajji and to wear a green turban." -- Since Burton was apparently, at least at this time, a kafir rather than a Muslim, to say that he "made the Hajj" and was "entitled to the title of Hajji" strikes me as rather odd. In his own words quoted in the article "nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever". IMHO his "Hajj" was rather a false or imitation one, and he had no valid claim to the title of Hajji. -- Writtenonsand 23:01, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

That line is not sourced ("The pilgrimage entitled him to the title of Hajji and to wear a green turban. Burton's own account of his journey is given in The Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah (1855)."), see if you can find a source for it or remove it. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 20:43, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

In Idries Shah's 'The Sufis' London 1964, Burton is referred to as being a Sufi at the beginning of the chapter on Sufism in the West and in 'the Way of the Sufi' he is referred to as a grand Sheikh of the Qadiri order. There is I believe, documentation among the dervishes for this. Which means that Burton was almost a saint in Islamic terms and certainly entitled to call himself a Haji. Wool Bridge (talk) 22:03, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Pederastic Slander[edit]

I have reverted your edits[1] for the following reasons:

  • Although you have provided citations these citations are merely suspicions and unsupported claims based on no real evidence. Suspicions and allegations do not make facts and thus have no place in an encyclopedia.
  • If made against the living these kinds of allegations would constitute slander and as such would have attendant legal remedies. The dead have no such means of self defense. If you are going to label historical figures as pederasts you had better have some solid evidence to back it up - not mere innuendo.
  • Your last citation is not valid as it does not indicate who the "some" are in "led some to believe." It needs a tertiary source and not a secondary.
  • "...further grounds for speculation" - ???? - this is POV and does not belong.

~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 16:43, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

It is not your place to pass judgment on the analyses and conclusions of scholars. Thus your objection to the citations is nothing but uncredentialed interference in the historiography of Burton's life. Even if you were a real scholar you are not here in that function.
Your "defense" of Burton's reputation is a polemic that does not belong in the compilation of an encyclopedia. Furthermore, it implies that the discussion of someone's homosexual behavior is defamatory.
I concede the last point, until the original reference is found.
I will not revert your inappropriate deletion at this time, assuming that you will be responsible enough to do it yourself. Haiduc (talk) 17:26, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Appropriateness of discussing homosexual details in this biography[edit]

The questions to be decided are: 1. Whether material documenting Burton's homosexual history is appropriate in this biography, and 2. Whether an editor's opinion that certain literary sources are defamatory is sufficient reason to disqualify those sources. 03:56, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Comment. Keep mention of sexuality if it is sourced reliably. I doubt defamatory is a reason to dismiss a source. Reliable sources can be neutral, complimentary or even disparaging toward the subject. As long as we remain neutral and dispassionate in our reporting there should be no issue there. Benjiboi 03:14, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
    • Thank you for your sensible contribution. I will be adding some information as soon as I get my hands on a couple of recent journal articles. Haiduc (talk) 16:58, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

His documentation of, and participation in, the homosexual demi-monde[edit]

The text below, begins to fill in a critical gap in the coverage of this article. I copy it here as it has been deleted without debate from the article. In its present condition the article reads like a whitewash of the erotic aspects of his personal and literary life, and is POV.

Suspicions of pederasty dogged Burton throughout most of his life[1], a particularly serious accusation as it was a criminal offence in the United Kingdom at the time. Biographers disagree on whether or not Burton ever experienced homosexual sex, though McLynn, who examined his sexual doings most closely, claims he could not have gained such a good understanding of pederastic practices without taking part in them.[2] These allegations began in his army days when General Sir Charles James Napier requested that Burton go undercover to investigate the male brothels in Karachi, reputed to be frequented by British soldiers. Burton's detailed report on the workings of the brothel led some to believe he had been a participant. His later writings on the subject of pederasty, especially the Arabian Nights and its Terminal essay, with its postulation of a "Sotadic zone" in the southern latitudes where sodomy was rife[3] gave further ground for speculation. Haiduc (talk) 22:13, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ Robert Aldrich, Colonialism and Homosexualitypp.30-32
  2. ^ Frank McLynn, From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton's Travels in the Americas, 1860-69
  3. ^ The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 10, Terminal Essay Section D, by Richard F. Burton (1885)
The text above inaccurately uses the words "homosexuality" and "pederasty" as if the two terms were synonyms. What's more, the article doesn't state the specific ages of Burton's alleged sex partners, which means that the serious allegation that Burton had sex with adolescent boys (the sole definition of "pederasty" in modern English) is unattributed. It is possible that the editor who deleted the paragraph saw this usage as a deliberate choice by an editor who wants to imply that all homosexuals are pedophiles, but it's also possible that the paragraph was deleted because of the extreme vagueness of the attribution.
If Burton is alleged to have had sex with adolescent males, this must be clearly and blatantly specified (and attributed) and the word "pederasty" should be used. If he is alleged to have had sex with males but either the ages of the alleged male partners are not known or they are known to have been adults (under the definition of the day), the word "pederast" is factually inaccurate and should not be used. --NellieBly (talk) 21:31, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Versions of Arabian Nights[edit]

I am confused about the versions of Arabian Nights that were printed in 17 volumes. The first is the Kama Shastra Benares edition, this we know. But was there a second edition of 1000 by the Burton Club in 17 volumes after that? Have the Americans re-printed this again? I have a 17 volume version from a 1000 limited edition. It just says printed by the Burton Club and gives no dates. I think it was printed in 1920. Wool Bridge (talk) 22:11, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Another question on a similar line. I have a collection of the volumes and the supplemental volumes, all printed by the Kama Shastra Society, plus a volume of illustrations, all dated to the original dates of publication (but I think they were gathered together as a set at a later date because they have several different people's bookplates in them). My question is - were there two editions of the 16 volumes printed for the Kama Shastra Society in 1885-8? Someone I asked said that one set had the Terminal Essay and the other doesn't. Mine doesn't, but the book dates all suggest they're the first editions. I'm confused, especially as the article states there was a guarantee that there would never be a larger printing of the books in this form. (talk) 17:16, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
There have been several reprintings of Burton's Nights because it is no longer under copyright. Many of them don't list the date of publication however. I have one without the date but it is clearly in good condition and is most likely from the 1970s and not a "first edition" as the inside cover suggests. There are tons of 'pirate' versions of this and other Nights as well. See for an example of what a complete Burton edition should contain.Richard ruffian (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:55, 6 September 2009 (UTC).

Early life and education[edit]

In article it states that he "entered Trinity College, Oxford"

Infact Trinitiy College is in Caimbridge not Oxford. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

There is a Trinity College at both Cambridge & Oxford. Come on! Lift a finger guy! Valerius Tygart (talk) 16:32, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Several items to discuss[edit]

Hi there. I translated the whole article for the french wikipedia and found several questions that need to be addressed before the text might be eligible as a “BA” (GA). I noticed Richard Clegg did not edit since dec 2, 2006, so I assume he won't be able to reply himself to this, but I hope someone following this page will.

  1. it is stated in introduction that RF Burton was a hypnotist, but surprisingly, there is no further mention of this in the text. We would like some details, examples and references about his hypnotist's activity.
  2. it is also stated in the current french (but not in english) version that he was a “sufi master”. Can anybody confirm this ? and give sourced precisions ? I don't remember now where this came from, but suspect now the information to be a hoax.
  3. Burton was a fencer and wrote books about fencing : however no dedicated paragraph develops this aspect in the text which only mentions his fighting abilities now and there.
  4. The last point concern Burton's alleged antisemitism. Are there other evidences than his book The Jew, the Gipsy and el Islam that RFB was actually antisemitic (in his whole life behaviour or other writings or declarations) ? This is of some importance since the guy is still categorized in “Catégorie:Antisémitisme”.

Thanks for paying attention : Archibald Tuttle (talk) 15:43, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I checked through both Wright's online text and Edward Rice's book. There is no trace of Burton being a "hypnotist". He is, however said to have coined the term "extra-sensuous perception". That he vas involved in sufism is abundantly discussed everywhere, but not as a "master", rather an adept. Concerning fencing, I still believe a paragraph dealing with Burton as a swordsman is currently lacking. The question of his alleged antisemitism has been answered more than to 2 years ago by R. Clegg in these words :

I don't think it is fair to describe Burton as anti-Semitic. He ran into a lot of trouble during his internship at Damascus by angering a group of Jewish money lenders and they made the claim that he was anti-Semitic. I think that certainly in the context of the time he was not anti-semitic though I'm aware that sections of The Gypsy, the Jew and El Islam can be read in that light.--Richard Clegg 08:37, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

So I'm going to rectify the current french version that contains remainings of olders english versions, and delete the categorization in "antisémistisme".

Archibald Tuttle (talk) 12:56, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Burton describes himself as a "Master-Sufi" on page 150 of his autobiography, inserted into his wife's biography. Markmost. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Markmost (talkcontribs) 23:09, 23 December 2009 (UTC)


Neapolitan is a language and not a dialect: - Neapolitan Wiki

I know that this seems like clutter but my simple edit changing "Neapolitan dialect" to "Neapolitan language" was "undone" because I didn't explain myself well enough. Rbritt518 (talk) 11:07, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

The City of the Saints, Among the Mormons and Across the Rocky Mountains to California[edit]

The link to The City of the Saints, Among the Mormons and Across the Rocky Mountains to California appears to be broken. Just a heads up. Surv1v4l1st (Talk|Contribs) 15:02, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Never mind. I found the correct link and fixed the page. Surv1v4l1st (Talk|Contribs) 16:46, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Notice of requested move[edit]

A request has been made to move Richard Burton (disambiguation) to Richard Burton. See Talk:Richard Burton#Requested move. --Una Smith (talk) 04:45, 23 July 2009 (UTC)


Shouldn't his "works" section on this page be linked to wikipedia pages about those works? As it is the titles link to their content online. Maybe it should be more in line with how other pages of authors have their works linked and be something like: "Goa" (linked to a wikipedia page on that title) with a pdf link after the title to the content found on the Internet. Does that make sense?  !!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Richard ruffian (talkcontribs) 23:59, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

First ever published dicussion of homosexuality in the English language?[edit]

I find this highly unlikely. It's unclear what exactly constitutes "discussion". This certainly wasn't the first mention, description or depiction of homosexuality in English. Already Chaucer calls one of his characters a "mare", Shakespeare wrote sonnets, the Restauration was naughty and a lot of homosexual activity was both recorded and "discussed" (i.e. chastized) - Rictor Norton has enthusiastically collected a lot of info and has a lot on his web page - the 18th century saw a lot of molly houses, Fanny Hill contained a gay episode, there were mentions in mainstream fiction (e.g. I recall an episode with a suspected homosexual captain in The Adventures of Roderick Random), etc.etc., and during all that time one would refer in a historical context to the well-known "vices of the Ancient Greeks", and so on. Perhaps Burton's was the first attempt at an entire scientific treatise on homosexuality in the English language, but this would also need to be sourced.-- (talk) 16:57, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

I'm guessing you settled on "was the first openly published discussion in English of sex between males". So I'm removing the dubious/discuss tag. It still needs a citation though. If I'm wrong, please put it back in. – sampi (talkcontribemail) 20:12, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

I would say that it's just wrong. The Sins of the Cities of the Plain in 1881 predates it and is an "openly published discussion in English of sex between males". Kenilworth Terrace (talk) 20:33, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Copyediting and bare URLs[edit]

Have repaired the bare URLs and have completed a fair amount of work on the section identified for copyediting.--Soulparadox 15:47, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

The Biographer's Tale[edit]

A.S. Byatt's rather lovely novel, "The Biographer's Tale" concerns a biography written about a man who is clearly an exaggerated and affectionate parody of Sir Richard Burton. (Byatt has always been fascinated by Burton's Arabian translations.) Is this of any interest in mentioning in the article, do you think? NaySay (talk) 15:15, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Burton/Speke relationship[edit]

I think the whole section on Burtons relationship with Speke is highly biased, unfavorably to Speke. It seems to rely heavily on Burton's biographers and not noting material from new research, i.e. Tim Jeals very well researched book 'Explorers of the Nile'(2011), which paints a much more nuanced picure. Specifically the paragraphs on Speke's alleged promise to Burton to wait for him in Londen; Speke's defectiveness in geographical and language skills; Speke's 'Victorian' racism as opposed to Burton's allegedly more sympathetic views of nonb-European peoples and cultures, have all been challenged by Jeal and other recent authors. I think this section needs to be far more balanced, and have introduced some new material, mainly from Jeal (2011). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Samenspeler (talkcontribs) 16:45, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

I've copyedited your addition somewhat to make it plain that these views are from sources and are not "facts" per se. You seem to be leaning towards the same bias (but in reverse) you claim Burton's traditional biographers employed. I also think you're relying to heavily on a single source (Jeal's book). If this is indeed the "new perspective" then we need other sources to corroborate. Please continue your editing and thanks for adding a new perspective to the article. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 18:17, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Place of birth[edit]

An editor recently added Tuam, Ireland as an alternate place of birth which I reverted. This was actually where his father, Joseph Netterville Burton, was born. Reference: Edward Rice (1990), Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography, pg. 9. [2] ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 19:06, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

Notice of intent to add to the article[edit]

I want to add a section to Richards page about his expedition to Somalia and i have the following sources

  1. BEN MACINTYRE."The Orientalist Express." May 7, 2009.
  2. An Exploration first Footsteps in East Africa. London: Tylston 1894. print — Preceding unsigned comment added by Laptime (talkcontribs) 12:36, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Ahem, this section requires some serious editing for spelling and stuff (copy edit). Also, IMO it should be integrated somehow with the previous section which already covers the Somalia trip.Drow69 (talk) 08:30, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

is athiest?[edit]

the writer is buried in church how is athiest?--Muhib mansour (talk) 23:22, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

this is his grave he christian why you take on englich category ? --Muhib mansour (talk) 17:00, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Many, many (many) atheists are buried in churchyards. Don't delude yourself. (talk) 17:28, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

He was buried in a churchyard because his wife, who survived him, was a Catholic and she made the burial arrangements. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:02, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

An Eggcorn?[edit]

The text in the section "Scandals" reads:

Stanley Lane-Poole, a Burton detractor, reported that Burton "confessed rather shamefastly that he had never killed anybody at any time."

Shouldn't "shamefastly" be "shamefacedly"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thomas Peardew (talkcontribs) 17:16, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Shamefastly: "In a shamefast manner" per Wiktionary. What's problem?? (talk) 14:42, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
If you look up "shamefastly" in Wiktionary, you will see "in a shamefast manner". If you then look up "shamefast", [3], you will see only one definition, and it is labeled Archaic. It is an old English word that is not used anymore. If you look up "shamefacedly", you will see "in a shamefaced manner". If you then look up "shamefaced", you will see two definitions. "Shamefaced" and "shamefacedly" are still in active use. CorinneSD (talk) 17:02, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

This shouldn't even be a discussion. The word is quoted from an original text. Changing it to a modern equivalent is a bit Orwellian, wouldn't you say? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 3 September 2016 (UTC)