Livingstone's 'lives'

A metabiography of a Victorian icon

By Justin Livingstone

Livingstone's 'lives'


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-8477-9912-8
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: November 2014
  • BIC Category: History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, European history, Colonialism & imperialism, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Adventurers & Explorers, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Geographical Discovery & Exploration, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


David Livingstone, the 'missionary-explorer', has attracted more commentary than nearly any other Victorian hero. Beginning in the years following his death, he soon became the subject of a major biographical tradition. Yet out of this extensive discourse, no unified image of Livingstone emerges. Rather, he has been represented in diverse ways and in a variety of socio-political contexts.

Until now, no one has explored Livingstone's posthumous reputation in full. This book meets the challenge. In approaching Livingstone's complex legacy, it adopts a metabiographical perspective: in other words, this book is a biography of biographies. Rather than trying to uncover the true nature of the subject, metabiography is concerned with the malleability of biographical representation. It does not aim to uncover Livingstone's 'real' identity, but instead asks: what has he been made to mean?

Crossing disciplinary boundaries, Livingstone's 'lives' will interest scholars of imperial history, postcolonialism, life-writing, travel-writing and Victorian studies.


1. Bio-diversity: metabiographical method
2. Styling the self: making missionary travels
3. Death: lamenting Livingstone
4. Empire: imperial afterlives
5. Nation: Scotland's son
6. Fiction: laughing at Livingstone?
7. Revisionism: sins, psyche, sex


Justin D. Livingstone is the Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow in Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow

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