The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612)

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Author: Strachey, William (1572-1621)

Year: 1953

Publisher: Hakluyt Society

Place: London


xxxii+221 pages with 3 foldout maps, frontispiece. Octavo (9" x 6") bound in original publisher's blue cloth with gilt lettering to spine and stamped pictorial representation of the ship Victoria in gilt on the cover, blind stamped edge rule to edges. Edited by Louis B. Wright and Virginia Freund. Works issued by the Hakluyt Society, Second Series, Number 103. First edition.

Willaim Strachey was born in 1572 in Saffron Walden in Essex. For a century Stracheys had lived in that neighborhood and had gradually risen from the status of yeomen to minor gentry. In pursuit of advancement, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1588. In 1605 a record in a deed finds him in London and a member of Gray's Inn, one of the most important of the Inns of Court. In 1595 he married and appears to have had a modest annuity but the records do not make clear how he subsisted. After his father and stepmother died he came into the inheritance, but was not sufficient to keep him out of financial difficulties. He was active in the London theater scene during his period at Gray's Inn and probably knew Ben Johnson, John Marston and William Shakespeare who later used material from Strachey in The Tempest. Because of his financial difficulty he became secretary to Thomas Glover and sailed with him in the Levant Company's ship. After his trip with Glover to the Mediterranean he returned home and again in need of money. To raise money he planned a trip to the New World. At this time the Virginia Company of London was organizing the largest expedition which had yet sailed to the colony on the James River. The fleet sailed from Plymouth in June 1609. When the fleet was within seven or eight days' sailing of Cape Henry disaster struck. An "huricano" hit the fleet and scattered them from Bermuda to Virginia. The best account of the disaster was written by Strachey of which part was used by Shakespeare in The Tempest. The Sea Venture, which Strachey was on, was beached and the whole company got safely ashore. They built two ships and finally reached the James River in May eleven months after leaving Plymouth. Strachey's honest and forthright description of the adventure and what they found at Jamestown help explain why the Virginia Company would not want the True Reportory published. He returned to England in the early fall of 1611. Shortly after landing, he prepared for publication a set of the laws proclaimed by Gates, De La Warr and Sir Thomas Dale, who succeeded De La Warr. The work was entitled For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Dine, Moral and Martiall, &c and appeared in 1612.


Moderate rubbing to extremities, some pages uncut, previous owner's name on front end paper, book plate on front paste down. A very good copy lacking jacket.

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