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 Kingsley & Co is a magical children's bookshop with a Victorian explorer theme. The shop is named after Mary Kingsley, a Victorian explorer, who defied the odds to travel the world and write all about what she had discovered.

What is Kingsley & Co

Who is Mary Kingsley

Mary Kingsley, a strong independent single woman, first visiting west Africa in 1893.  When she returned from exploring in 1985 she wrote two bestselling books about her experiences.  These books gave people the chance to see Africa in a new way and influenced public perception of the African people.  This ability to live a dream, explore new things, gain new experience and then communicate it to others are partly the inspiration for Ykids, Kingsley & Co project.

Born in London in 1862, Mary wasn't given a conventional education. For girls in her family's social circle, education wasn't considered necessary although her brother did receive one. Mary’s mother was often sick and preferred all windows and curtains in the house to be closed. Often in darkness, and without many friends, Mary discovered far off lands and exotic places in the books in her father’s library.

 

So, whilst her brother was educated, Mary looked after her ill mother and gave herself an unorthodox education through her father's library.

 

Largely teaching herself, Mary longed to see the wide world beyond the very small part she knew. In 1892, when Mary was 30- both her parents passed away. With her new-found freedom, she decided to travel to West Africa, continuing her father’s scientific work. Everyone she knew tried to put her off and warned her that she would die! But Mary couldn’t sit still any longer and off she went, travelling by boat from Liverpool.

 

Mary shared her father's desire to travel and enjoyed helping with research and listening to stories from his travel. In 1892 after the passing of her mother and father, she used her inheritance and newly found freedom to set off on an expedition across West Africa.

 

Through her travels, Mary had taken on the persona of a trader allowing her to be accepted into most villages much easier than if she was just an explorer. Her travels and the stories she brought back have helped to shape more positively, the perceptions of African culture as well as the negative effects of British imperialism.

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Who is Mary Kingsley