Authorised form of nameHolman; James (1786 - 1857)
Dates1786 - 1857
Place of birthFore Street, Exeter, Devon, England
Date of birth15 October 1786
Place of deathHis lodgings near the Minories, London
Date of death28 or 29 July 1857
Dates and placesBurial:
Highgate Cemetery, London
Son of a Chymist and Surgeon'. In 1798, at age 12, entered the Royal Navy as a volunteer first class, the entry level for future officers; Lieutenant (1807); became blind (at age 25). Gained appointment as a Knight of Windsor in order not to be a burden on his family, his main requirement being to attend religious functions. Sought and obtained permission to travel as a palliative to his ailments. Holman crafted a cane which was metal tipped, and which he held like a paint brush, so he could tap his way through foreign lands. Circumnavigated the globe, visiting Siberia, Tasmania and previously unexplored areas of the African interior. He rode on horseback and walked; he sailed on merchant ships and rode on rudimentary, horse-drawn carts. Holman's accounts of his trips made him a popular author in England, although he was attacked by John Dundas Cochrane, the Pedestrian Traveller whose books did not sell so well in comparison. His most remarkabel achievement was his first attempt to circumnavigate the world by journeying east from England across Europe to Russia and Siberia. Eventually stopped by Russian authorities.
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election02/02/1826
Bulloch's Roll; DNB
Boase gives death date as 28 July 1786
Roberts, James 'A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveller' (2006)
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA7499
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/Maull/002184Holman, Jamesnd
IM/002185Holman, Jamesnd
IM/002186Holman, Jamesnd
NLB/16/897Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to H Wilson Holman, 92 Billiter Buildings, E.C.29 June 1898
EC/1825/19Holman, James: certificate of election to the Royal Society
MC/5Volume 5 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1851-1858
MC/5/337Letter from Andr [Andrew] Holman, 10 John Street, America Square, to General [Edward] Sabine, Treasurer of the Royal Society11 March 1858
P/0069Portrait of Holman, James
HS/10/202Letter, from James Holman to Margaret Brodie Herschel, dated at Windsor12 January 1835
HS/10/201Letter, from James Holman to Sir John Herschel, dated at Sierra Leone3 September 1827
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