Inspiring People Stories

Geography embraces a wide range of disciplines and activities, practised by some truly inspiring people.  Over the past 130 years, we are fortunate to have had a connection with many extraordinary individuals.  The history of Scottish geography before the RSGS was established also boasts some remarkable people who made a considerable difference to our understanding of the world around us.

Our inspiring people include adventurers, artists, astronauts, broadcasters, cartographers, climbers, cyclists, divers, doctors, environmentalists, explorers, historians, journalists, leaders, mountaineers, philanthropists, photographers, politicians, researchers, sailors, scientists, soldiers, teachers, travellers, and writers.

Some have given public talks for the RSGS (and our programme of talks continues to inspire); some have received our prestigious Medals and Awards; some have served as RSGS honorary officers, staff or volunteers.

We would like to share some of their stories…

The Great Horizon

Fifty astonishing stories of exploration, gathered from the archives of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, by Jo Woolf, RSGS Writer-in-Residence....Read More

Dr Robert D Ballard (b 1942)

In 2001, the RSGS awarded Robert Ballard the prestigious Livingstone Medal, in honour of his amazing achievements, acknowledging him as “one of the world’s best known deep-sea explorers, having logged more hours in the deep than any other marine scientist.”...Read More

William Gordon Burn-Murdoch (1862-1939)

A man of diverse interests, William, or ‘WG’ as he was known to family and close friends, was not only an artist but also an accomplished piper, explorer, fisherman, hunter, Scottish nationalist, whaler, and writer....Read More

Hannah Miller Hanlon (1916-2007)

In June 2005 the Society took possession of a remarkable collection of slides and accompanying diaries recording over half a century of world travel....Read More

Lindsey Hilsum

Lindsey Hilsum is an award-winning journalist who has reported from numerous war and conflict zones over the past two decades. In recognition of this, she was awarded the RSGS Mungo Park Medal...Read More

Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889-1982)

Isobel Wylie Hutchison was a Scottish botanist, filmmaker, author, poet, and Arctic explorer who, between 1927 and 1936, travelled the Arctic by any means available....Read More

Frederick Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard (1858-1945)

Captain Frederick Lugard (as he then was) spoke for the RSGS in November 1892, giving a talk to audiences in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee on the subject of Characteristics of African Travel, with Notes on a Journey from Mombasa to the Albert Lake...Read More

Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières is a global organisation that provides emergency medical care to millions of people. On any given day, more than 30,000 of its volunteer staff are working somewhere in the world...Read More

Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904)

Henry Morton Stanley was born in Wales as John Rowlands. Largely abandoned by his parents, he was brought up by a grandfather who tragically died when he was only six. Taken into the workhouse, his remaining childhood was harsh, to say the least...Read More

Sir Hubert Wilkins (1888-1958)

The Australian explorer George Hubert Wilkins was one of those people who just seem to have been born lucky. During the First World War he was an official cameraman in the Belgian trenches and he regularly went ‘over the top’ with the soldiers as they made their charge...Read More

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Younghusband (1863-1942)

Sir Francis Younghusband, the son of a British army major in India, and a friend of Lord Curzon, was a major player in the ‘Great Game’, the strategic manoeuvrings of Britain and Russia for control of large areas of the Himalayas and parts of Asia...Read More