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Travels To Discover The Source Of The Nile, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773. In Five Volumes. By James Bruce of Kinnaird, Esq. F.R.S. Vol. I. (-V.)

James Bruce

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Select Specimens Of Natural History Collected In Travels to discover the Source of the Nile


Edinburgh:: Printed By J. Ruthven, For G.G.J. And J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, London., M.DCC.XC.

Physical Description

5 vols.; 297 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

Vol. I: [12], lxxxiii, [1], 535 [i.e. 543], [1] p., [8] pl. Between pages 400 and 401 there are seven pages printed in Ethiopic letter and one blank page; these are listed as a plate in the 'List Of The Plates' in Volume V. - Vol. II: [4], viii, 718 p. - Vol. III: [4], viii, 759, [1] p., [4] pl. - Vol. IV:[4], viii, 695 [i.e.701], [1] p., 3 pl. Each of the three plates is accompanied by one unpaginated leaf of explanatory text. The three plates are plans of battle-fields. - Vol. V: [4], iv, [iii-]xiv, 230, [12] p., [46] pl. (3 fold.). The three folding pl. are maps.


Vol. I: [Half-t., t.p., dedic.] - Introduction - Contents Of The First Volume - [Text, with pl.]. - Vol. II: [Half-t., t.p.] - [Text]. - Vol. III: [Half-t., t.p.] - Contents Of The Third Volume - [Text]. - Vol. IV: [Half-t., t.p.] - Contents Of The Fourth Volume - [Text, with pl.] - Register Of The Barometer And Thermometer in Abyssinia, 1770. - Vol. V: [Half-t., t.p.] - Contents Of The Fifth Volume - Introduction - [Text, with pl.:] Of Plants, Shrubs, And Trees; Of Quadrupeds; Of Birds - List Of The Plates In Mr. Bruce's Travels - Index [of whole work] - Errata [of whole work].

Responsibility Note

No plates are signed by a draughtsman; but Bruce employed Luigi Balugani to make sketches and maps. Several plates and some title-page vignettes are signed as engraved by Heath. Two of the three folding maps in Volume V are signed as engraved by J. Walker.

Each plate carries the publisher's imprint of G. Robinson and the date.

The publishers, 'G.G.J. and J. Robinson' are George Robinson (1736-1801), his son, George, and two brothers, John and James.

The work is dedicated by the author to the King (George III).


P. Hulton, Luigi Balugani's drawings of African plants (1991)
ESTC, T51608
M. Bredin, The pale Abyssinian: a life of James Bruce (2000).

Summary Note

A variant title is carried by the fifth volume: 'Select Specimens Of Natural History Collected In Travels to discover the Source of the Nile, In Egypt, Arabia, Abyssinia, and Nubia'. This volume has the half-title and running-title, 'Appendix'.

The publication date of 1790 is given on the title pages and is carried by some plates in Volume V. Almost all other plates carry the publication-date of December 1 1789.

Several of Bruce's drawings were presented to George III, and are in the Royal Collection at Windsor.


A microfilm version was published in 1986 (Woodbridge CT: Research Publications).


Acquired between 1790 and 1802. Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Copy Note

Imperfect: lacks the half-titles.

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf; rebacked in 20th century, red and green morocco spine-labels lettered 'Bruce's Travels Vol I (-V) RA'.

Name as Subject


Natural history - Plants - Botany - Animals - Birds - Africa, East - Nile (River) - Blue Nile River (Ethiopia and Sudan) - Egypt - Sudan - Ethiopia - History - 18th century
British - Explorers - Expeditions - Discoveries in Geography - Africa, East - Nile (River) - Blue Nile River (Ethiopia and Sudan) - Egypt - Sudan - Ethiopia - Description and travel - History - 18th century
Travel literature - Maps - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century