glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy





social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Burton, Sir Richard F. (1821-1890)  
page: 1  2  

When Burton sought to assimilate an indigenous culture he threw himself into the local milieu, seeking the common man's life rather than upper class ways. This propensity of immersing himself among the lower classes gave rise to Burton's being referred to by his fellow Britons as the "White Nigger."

After a long engagement, Burton married Isabel Arundel in 1861. Marrying a Roman Catholic afforded Burton yet another opportunity to affront English sensibilities, as did his publication of exotic sexual manuals and how-to books. Burton's marriage seems to have been happy, and his wife seems to have supported his scholarly works, including the famous translations.

Sponsor Message.

Throughout his career, Burton collected literature in its original language and translated it into English. It is through his efforts that The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (1883), Ananga Ranga or the Hindu Art of Love (1885), The Perfumed Garden of Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology (1886), and The Arabian Nights (1885-1888) made their way to Victorian readers. In addition, he translated salacious Roman classics, such as The Carmina of Gaius Valerius Catullus (1894-posthumous), and Priapeia, or the Sportive Epigrams of Divers Poets on Priapus (1890). By publishing such scurrilous works, he flirted with violation of the Obscenity Acts.

In the "Terminal Essay" of The Arabian Nights, published in 1885, Burton announced his theory of a "Sotadic Zone" where homosexuality allegedly flourished. Burton averred that homosexuality was "geographical and climatic, not racial." The Sotadic Zone encompassed most of the Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, China, Japan, and the islands of the South Seas. This theory was not widely adopted, but it may have confirmed the opinion of many British readers that homosexuality was essentially a foreign vice.

Burton died October 20, 1890 in Trieste. His wife ordered a marble monument for him shaped like a tent, where he lived so much of his life.

Alex Hunnicutt

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Social Sciences

   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Nineteenth Century

From its beginning, the nineteenth century in England had a purposeful homosexual literature of considerable bulk, both male and female, though it was fettered by oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Ethnography

Beginning in the 1960s increasing numbers of ethnographers have conducted research on glbtq issues, spurred by the premise that studies of diverse sexualities are crucial to understanding human behavior and culture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Etiology

The earliest etiologies--or theories of causation--of homosexuality date from European antiquity, but the search for a universal etiology has intensified as homosexual behavior has come under the scrutiny of science.

literature >> Overview:  Middle Eastern Literature: Arabic

The expression of male homoerotic sentiment is one of the dominant themes in classical Arabic literature from the ninth century to the nineteenth.

literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Gay Male

The gay tradition in literature from ancient times to the present is primarily a tradition not of prose but of verse.

literature >> Overview:  Roman Literature

Roman writers on homosexual or bisexual themes generally followed Greek models; but unlike the Greeks, Romans condoned sex with slaves.

literature >> Overview:  South Asian Literatures: Diaspora

Although the treatment of homosexuality is rare in South Asian literatures in the contemporary period, the South Asian diaspora has recently produced a number of both gay and lesbian writers.

social sciences >> Overview:  Third Sex

The relative popularity of the term "third sex" to refer to homosexuals is closely connected to its use by some of the most prominent representatives of the early homosexual rights movement in Germany.

literature >> Catullus

The Roman poet Catullus incorporated homoerotic themes in his verse, both reflecting the passionate character of same-sex friendships and describing several of his own homosexual adventures.

literature >> Halliburton, Richard

There has been renewed interest in the life and work of American adventurer and travel writer Richard Halliburton at least in part because of his homosexuality.

literature >> Rocco, Antonio

Italian rhetorician and philosopher Antonio Rocco is author of an early classic of pederastic literature, L'Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (Alcibiades the schoolboy), which was written in 1630 and published anonymously in 1652.


Burne, Glenn S. Richard F. Burton: A Biography. Twayne's English Authors Series. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985.

Farwell, Byron. Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton. New York: Viking, 1988.

Hasting, Michael. Sir Richard Burton: A Biography. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1978.

Lovell, Mary S. A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton. New York: Norton, 1998.

Rice, Edward. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West. New York: Harper-Perennial, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Hunnicutt, Alex  
    Entry Title: Burton, Sir Richard F.  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 26, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.