Uncommon Traveler - Book and Activities

Uncommon Traveler - Book and Activities

The true adventures of Mary Kingsley will inspire patrons to embrace their dreams. Allow her travels to guide patrons through the adventure of research.

Mary Kingsley is not a heroine known to most people. She quietly touched the lives of those around her in England and Africa, at a time when women were expected to stay home and lead simple lives.

In Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa, Don Brown brings us Mary Kingsley's story. Mary spent most of her life taking care of her ill mother. Mary's wasn't allowed to go to school because of her obligations at home. That didn't stop her dreams of travel. She wanted to go to the places she read about in books. Finally, in 1892, at the age of 30, Mary left England for West Africa. She wanted to collect plant specimens to finish her late father's book.

During her travels she dealt with heat, deadly insects, snakes, and other wildlife--all in Victorian dress. None of this stifled her love for the continent. When Mary returned to England she spent her time teaching others about Africa. She wrote Travels in West Africa is still in print after over 100 years and considered one of the best adventure travel books ever written.


Gather magazines and books with photographs of different African landscapes, animals, and plants. Remember, Africa is a continent with varied topography and cultures. Read the book allowed, directing students to listen for language that makes them feel the physical nature of Mary's travels, "scorching heat and soggy air."

Have students choose one one picture or aspect of Mary's travels and research it. They are to gather at least five facts and develop a lecture. The researchers are to help an audience imagine the scene or creature. They may create pictures or a PowerPoint presentation to highlight the lecture.

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Content copyright © 2018 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.