The most intriguing adventurer of all was Richard Francis Burton who, among his many accomplishments including the mastery of about sixty languages and a deep knowledge of many ethnic cultures, travelled in disguise to the holy city of Mecca (forbidden on pain of death to non Muslims) and later discovered the source of the Nile with John Speke. There was much dispute about this discovery between the two explorers, and amongst others regarding the actual source – a debate that continued for many years. Burton was not only an amazing linguist but also translated important works into English including the Karma Sutra and The Arabian Nights. Though very much a man of action, he wrote numerous books and articles throughout his life on various subjects such as human behaviour, travel, fencing, sexual practices, and ethnography.
Amongst numerous references:
Brodie, Fawn M. (1967). The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Burton, Isabel (1893). The Life of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton KCMG, FRGS. Vols. 1 & 2.
Wright, Thomas (1906). The Life of Sir Richard Burton. Vols. 1 &2 New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
Also: ‘Search for the Nile’, 1971 BBC mini-series featured Kenneth Haigh as Burton The Victorian Sex Explorer, Rupert Everett documents Burton's travels. Part of the Channel Four (UK) 'Victorian Passions'