PARK, Mungo (1771-1806). Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: performed under the direction and patronage of the African Association, in the years 1795, 1796, and 1797... with an appendix, containing Illustrations of Africa by Major Rennell. London: W. Bulmer and Co. for the author, and sold by G. and W. Nicol, 1799.
4to., (10 6/8 x 8 4/8 inches). Half-title. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Park by T. Dickinson after H. Edridge, large folding engraved map "shewing the Progress of Discovery & Improvement, in the Geography of North America: compiled by J. Rennell, 1798" (short tear near mount, some separations at intersection of folds), folding engraved "Chart of the Lines of Magnetic Variation, in the Seas around Africa", and "The Route of Mr. Mungo Park, from Pisania on the River Gambia, to Silla, on the River Joliba, or Niger; With his return by the Southern Route, to Pisania. Compiled from Mr. park's Observations, Notes, & Sketches, By J. Rennell", with original hand-colour in outline (short closed tear around the title), 2 engraved botanical plates, including one large and folding, 3 engraved views with folding margins, 2 leaves of music. Modern calf backed grey paper boards.
Provenance: with the modern bookplate of The Thomas A.C. Rennie Library at The Gunnery, Washington, Connecticut, the gift of Mrs. Adrian van Sinderen, on the front paste-down
Second edition. Park's narrative of the journey forms both a great travel book and a work which is valued "for its scientific obervations on the botany and meteorology of the region, and on the social and domestic life of the negroes"(PMM). The first publication to provide accurate information on the interior regions of Africa, the work was an immediate success. "Three editions were printed during the first year, and it was immediately translated into French and German, and eventually other languages. Written in a straightforward, unpretentious, narrative style, it gave readers their first realistic description of everyday life in west Africa, depicted without the censorious, patronizing contempt which so often has disfigured European accounts of Africa... he presented the people he met as people basically like himself. Having shared their activities, he recorded their joys and sorrows sympathetically, admiring what he thought admirable, and deploring what he thought deplorable. In it he comes over personally as an attractively modest figure, anxious to impart information but without making it boring or pedantic, and making light of his recollected adventures. The volume included as appendices a Mandinka vocabulary, Rennell's comments on the apparent implications of his geographical discoveries, and a women's song he had recorded, turned into verse by the duchess of Devonshire, and printed with accompanying music by G. G. Ferrari (Christopher Fyfe for DNB). PMM 253.