William George Browne (1768-1813), English traveller, was born at Great Tower Hill, London, on the 25th of July 1768. At seventeen he was sent to Oriel College, Oxford. Having had a moderate competence left him by his father, on quitting the university he applied himself entirely to literary pursuits. But the fame of James Bruce's travels, and of the first discoveries made by the African Association, determined him to become an explorer of Central Africa. He went first to Egypt, arriving at Alexandria in January 1792. He spent some time in visiting the oasis of Siwa or Jupiter Ammon, and employed the remainder of the year in studying Arabic and in examining the ruins of ancient Egypt. In the spring of 1793 he visited Sinai, and in May set out for Darfur, joining the great caravan which every year went by the desert route from Egypt to that country. This was his most important journey, in which he acquired a great variety of original information. He was forcibly detained by the sultan of Darfur and endured much hardship, being unable to effect his purpose of returning by Abyssinia. He was, however, allowed to return to Egypt with the caravan in 1796; after this he spent a year in Syria, and did not arrive in London till September 1798. In 1799 he published his Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria, from the year 1792 to 1798. The work was full of valuable information; but, from the abruptness and dryness of the style, it never became popular.
In 1800 Browne again left England, and spent three years in visiting Greece, some parts of Asia Minor and Sicily. In 1812 he once more set out for the East, proposing to penetrate to Samarkand and survey the most interesting regions of central Asia. He spent the winter in Smyrna, and in the spring of 1813 travelled through Asia Minor and Armenia, made a short stay at Erzerum, and arrived on the 1st of June at Tabriz. About the end of the summer of 1813 he left Tabriz for Teheran, intending to proceed thence into Tartary, but was shortly afterwards murdered. Some bones, believed to be his, were afterwards found and interred near the grave of Jean de Thevenot, the French traveller.
Robert Walpole published, in the second volume of his Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey (1820), from papers left by Browne, the account of his journey in 1802 through Asia Minor to Antioch and Cyprus; also Remarks written at Constantinople (1802).