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Maps : The Khami atlas of the world / [drawn by Daniel Rowe English]


<p style='text-align: justify;'>Dan English (1912-1980) will be remembered by those who knew him as many things, depending on when, in his varied life, they encountered him. I we might paraphrase Shakespeare's Ophelia, his was the "rancher's, scholar's, soldier's eye, tongue, sword". He spent his life as, successively, a major in the Royal Engineers and then the Indian Army, a cattle rancher in what was then Southern Rhodesia, a lecturer in mathematics at Rhodes University in South Africa. He was also a keen horseman and polo player, amateur of languages, pianist and illustrator. Throughout all the phases of his life, he maintained a keen interest in the physical and natural world around him, and in the diversity of human cultures and languages. Unusually for a Matabeleland farmer, he would spend his evenings on the ranch studying a series of foreign languages, which, added to those he learned at school and later in the army, included - beside mainstream European languages- Greek, Persian, Arabic, Marathi, Russian and Turkish. Of course, his Ndebele was also text-book perfect.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>All his intellectual endeavours were informed by a devotion to accuracy and intense determination to finish whatever he started that sometimes cost him dear. Thus, when he was at Stowe school, at the age of 13 he embarked on a project that would take him some 10 years to complete and to which he put the finishing touches while he was studying for a degree in engineering at King's College Cambridge (where he spent some time in the same maths tutorial group as Alan Turing).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This project was to draw and paint an atlas of the entire world by hand, including the outlines of the maps (with no ruler), the names of every river, hill and promontory, and every village, dorp and aul in all five continents. He called the finished project 'The Khami Atlas of the World' after the farm in Matabeleland that he had inherited from his father.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The ambition and eccentricity of this undertaking came as no surprise to Dan's family and friends. The 'Khami Atlas of the World' was perhaps the most arduous and lengthiest - but by no means not the only - such undertaking. Other projects on which he embarked and, over the course of years, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, were a - sadly never published - study of gravitational forces, including observations about lunar gravity, which he verified in a personal correspondence with Neil Armstrong; a compendium of the trees of Rhodesia, with detailed ethnographic and linguistic annotations; and a transposition and transcription, by hand, in exquisite pen and ink musical notation and calligraphy, of all of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas, as he wished to play the songs in a key that suited his voice.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Text written by Rosalind English</p>

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