About the Author
Mary Henrietta Kingsley (1862–1900) was an English writer and explorer who greatly influenced European ideas about Africa and African people. Kingsley was born in Islington. She was the daughter of George Kingsley (himself a travel writer) and Mary Bailey, and the niece of Charles Kingsley. Her father was a doctor and worked for George Herbert, 13th Earl of Pembroke. Her mother was an invalid and Mary was expected to stay at home and look after her. Mary had little formal schooling but she did have access to her father's large library and loved to hear her father's stories of foreign countries. Her father died in February 1878. Her mother also died just five weeks later. Freed from her family responsibilities, and with an income of £500 a year, Mary was now able to travel. Mary decided to visit Africa to collect the material she would need to finish off a book that her father had started on the culture of the people of Africa.