Monday, 5 July 2010

Websites for Writers: Burtoniana

Sir Richard Francis Burton has always been one of my personal heroes. The famous nineteenth century explorer was a linguist, naturalist, fighter, lover, early anthropologist, and writer. He's famous for sneaking into Mecca posing as a Muslim and contributing to the discovery of the source of the Nile. He was also surprisingly open-minded and multicultural for his time, although he wasn't afraid of criticizing a culture's faults, including his own.

Burtoniana is an excellent website dedicated to his life and work. Writers can get a lot out of this site. It's filled with detailed descriptions of Burton's travels in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, perfect for someone penning a historical tale or wanting inspiration for creating a fantasy world with some real cultural basis. Burton's style was intellectual without being dry, adventurous without being exaggerated, and clear without being condescending.

He also wrote every day. It didn't matter if he was covered in boils, hadn't eaten in three days, and was being chased by angry tribesmen, he still wrote every day. This is his true inspiration for writers. If he could be half dead and lost a thousand miles from home, and still churn out a thousand words of good prose in a single morning, what's your excuse?

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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