Mary Henrietta Kingsley was the daughter of Dr. George Kingsley and the niece of Charles Kingsley and Henry Kingsley. She was educated at home with a governess and kept house for her invalid parents until their deaths. She then embarked upon two famously adventurous trips to Africa in 1893–1895, which included visits to Zaire, Nigeria, the French Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, among others. She wrote two books about her experiences, both bestsellers, Travels in West Africa (1897) and West Africa Studies (1899). These works, which defended the humanity and character of the people she met and observed, came to have a great influence on the way the English public viewed Africans. She died of a fever in South Africa at age 38 while working as a volunteer nurse during the Boer War. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine founded an honorary medal in her name.