David Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript: Digital Editing and the Literature of Victorian Exploration

This paper showcases a digital project, Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript (1857): A Critical Edition, published in 2019 by the online museum and library, Livingstone Online. Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa was the major literary achievement of the Victorian explorer, David Livingstone; it is among the most influential of nineteenth-century texts on Africa, having made a considerable contribution to the contemporary escalation of interest in the continent.

The Missionary Travels manuscript project provides insight into the production of this significant travelogue by focussing on Livingstone’s three-volume draft manuscript, a working document that occupies an intermediate space between in-field travel notes and published narrative. In providing remediated access to the manuscript, alongside critically-edited transcriptions that track its revisions and redactions, the project discloses the inscriptive processes that shaped the book as it was prepared for print.

This paper addresses the project’s encoding principles, the practice of digital editing, and the value of digital remediation for a “materialist” approach to the expeditionary record.

Dr Justin Livingstone is Lecturer in English Literature at Queen’s University Belfast. His research focuses on colonial literature and culture, the literature of Victorian exploration, and the digital humanities.

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First broadcast on 25 September 2020.

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