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Book of Maps about Cook

 

A book has been published by John Robson, one of the members of the CCS.

Dust jacket of book Captain Cook's World: Maps of the life and voyages of James Cook, RN 208 pp. 128 colour maps. Published in August 2000 by:
Random House NZ (ISBN 1869414098, NZ$59.95),
Random House Australia (ISBN 1740514130, A$45.00)
University of Washington Press (ISBN 0295980192, US$40.00)
and in 2001 by Chatham Publications, UK (ISBN 1861761813, £25.00).

This book is an atlas, chronology, and biography of the life and voyages of this celebrated explorer. A set of 128 specially drawn maps and accompanying text give a detailed overview of his life, including his early years in England, his time in the North Sea coal trade and with the Royal Navy in Canada, and his three great voyages around the world in HMB Endeavour and HMS Resolution. Included on the maps are locations visited, named, or surveyed by Cook; the routes of his voyages; and sites that have been marked in his honor, such as monuments. Based on meticulous scholarship but aimed at a general audience, the book is a fascinating and accessible record of Cook's life and travels.
John says that he is very pleased with it despite spotting three errors.
In an interview he said
"I grew up in Stockton-on-Tees in the Northeast of England, very close to Marton where Cook was born. Cook's influence was still very strong, though it predated the idea of Cook Country as a tourist feature and the opening of several Cook museums. My mother used to tell my brother and I that we were related to Cook, and we had close friends in Great Ayton whom we visited regularly and with whom we went walking near Cook-associated features. Through these events I always had a strong awareness of Cook. A parallel interest developed in maps and atlases. Poring over and drawing maps was something of a passion. Travelling, which I have always enjoyed, was also an excuse to collect maps associated with where I was going.
My degree in Mining Geology had little or no connection with Cook, though it did enable me to be working in Australia in 1970 at the time of Cook's Bicentenary there. My conversion to Librarianship has given me easy access to Cook material and knowledge of how to find out more.
Too many books have been produced about Cook, often just reprocessing information (some of it incorrect) from earlier efforts. In most of them a failing, to my eye anyway, has been their lack of decent maps showing where events in Cook's life and voyages took place. Cook, perhaps more than most because of his extensive travels, needed an atlas that would show such details. Andrew David produced for the Hakluyt Society the three volumes of "Cook's Charts and Coastal Views". These magnificent books reproduce all of Cook's maps and charts but the books are very expensive and not easily available to most people. Added to that, Cook did not always produce a chart showing the exact details. I felt a niche existed and that I could use both my interests, Cook and drawing maps, to remedy the situation. As luck had it, I was made redundant at the end of 1996 from my long-time job at the Hamilton Public Library. With my payout I purchased a PC and began to learn how to drive the machine by starting work on this book.
I live very near the University of Waikato Library (where I now work) and started makimg use of their wonderful map collection, in addition to my own. I drew a hundred or so maps and produced text to go with them. Then, I sent off enquiries to three publishers - two in New Zealand and one in Australia - who had published Cook-related items, in the hope that they would consider my work. Random House expressed positive interest (the other New Zealand publisher rejected it very quickly) while the Australian to whom I sent it was ill at the time. When he returned to work he was also interested, but by then Random House was committed to the project.
Most of the work was completed in 6 months in 1997 but fine tuning, rewriting, new information, changes in projected layout, etc etc ensured that it took a lot longer to come to publication. I drew all the maps before Max Oulton, a computer cartographer here at Waikato University, scanned them onto his computer. He then added the text I had supplied him and we produced an early version of the maps. The people at Random House later "tarted" them up to how you see them in the book today. I received no funding and, in fact, I paid Max to do the computer side of things so I need to sell many, many copies before I get to anything approaching breaking even.
Beaglehole's biography of Cook, together with his editing of the Journals of the three voyages, made life somewhat easier. From them you have a good starting-point in knowing about Cook's life and travels, especially the three great voyages. I already had a very large collection of Cook books and I was able to use them to fill in aspects of Cook's early life. Information about Cook's childhood, his time on the North Sea and his time with the Royal Navy in Canada and Newfoundland has always been harder to trace, but between various sources I was able to map this section also. Usually I traced outlines and then added, as exactly as you can with such things, the tracks of the ships, etc. Cook's own charts were a good starting-point but often I have had to make reasoned guesses as to where the ships sailed or where people walked. For his early life, the tracks depicted are generalised representations.
Beaglehole's work was so comprehensive that it is rare to find him making a mistake. However, my research showed that Cook sat his Master's exam near the Tower of London and not at Deptford, as Beaglehole had stated. Not a big thing but it gave me a sense of satisfaction at finding this out.
Printing of the book produced a surprising restriction whereby the maps would be run off in sets of eight. The four sections of the book had, therefore, to be multiples of eight. This meant that some maps had to be squeezed up and, in other parts, extra maps had to be included. Overall, the satisfying thing about the book has been producing a body of information in a different way. The old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words holds true, and I believe these maps are a good and easy way of portraying information.
I have drawn the maps and prepared some of the text for similar volumes about the French Explorers Bougainville and Laperouse. They both led expeditions to the Pacific but also had fascinating lives before (and in Bougainville's case) after the Pacific. I just need to persuade a publisher and ..."

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