The Tangled Web: a Life of Sir Richard Burton

by Jon R. Godsall.

Leicester, 2008

ISBN: 978-1906510-428

Jon Godsall's long-awaited biography of Richard Burton was published in the UK in 2008, by Troubador.  Godsall has checked facts where others have repeated stories, and he has read his material intelligently, alive to Burton's gift for self-invention. 

It has been obvious for some time that a more skeptical examination of the Burtons is required, and Burton himself surely expected more maturity from his readers.  Godsall shows that the disparity between the received life of Burton and the facts is far wider than many have suspected, though most of the clues have been present all along, in internal evidence. 

This promises to be the biographer's biography.  Some initial cross-checking against unpublished sources shows that Godsall, well-known as the author of two essential papers on Burton in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, seems to have been exceptionally thorough and accurate (although the page count tops 500, it is really much longer, since the pages are larger than the usual octavo, and the typeface is relatively small).

This is now available only in Kindle form from Amazon.

Corroboration of one element of Burton's Steeple-Chasing Incident,
from the Oxford University Statutes. Burton left Oxford shortly after this, "on or around March 11".