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Colonel Frederick Burnaby 1842-85: A Great Victorian Eccentric

Posted on Friday, December 11, 2020 | No Comments

There cannot be many more colourful and controversial characters in the 1870's and 80's than Colonel Frederick Augustus Burnaby. He is not very well known now though his portrait by Tissot is in the National Portrait Gallery and there are numerous memorials in England.Educated at Bedford School. Harrow, Oswestry and Dresden he joined the Royal Horseguards in 1859.

There he found life frustrating with no active service, but there was 5 months leave per year and he frequently used this time to develop other interests. He took to aeronautics and later became the first person to cross the Channel by balloon, and undertook a 3000 mile trip to cross Russia and in midwinter too.

He wrote a book about this called Ride to Khiva describing the journey over the Steppes, a best seller that is still in print. He also traveled to the Soudan to catch up with the mythical General Gordon at Khartoum.

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