A New Voyage Round the World. Dampier, William. 1998

A New Voyage Round the World. Dampier, William. 1998

Dampier, William.
A New Voyage Round the World
hummingbird press.
ISBN 0-9532918-0-4.

This book stands at the forefront of British explorers' accounts. Captain James Cook has rightly been celebrated as the man who revealed Australia to the world, but it was Dampier who, during his twelve-year circumnavigation of the globe, became the first Englishman to set foot on Australian soil. Unhappily for Dampier's fortunes, on landing near Shark's Bay in 1688 he found the West Coast to be barren desert, with little to suggest the riches of the hinterland.

Dampier's feats of navigation and exploration, his intriguing and often comical descriptions of the peoples, customs and natural conditions of the places he visited, and his unorthodox mode of transportation – in a series of buccaneering vessels – all ensured a celebrity's return to England in 1691. In addition, Dampier proved, before the invention of Harrison's chronometer, that the Pacific Ocean was wider than commonly believed.

His subsequent book was a best-selling title in 1697, and later inspired both Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Almost every explorer in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries carried with him a copy of Dampier's masterpiece, and Clennell Wilkinson, Dampier's biographer, said, "As a travel-writer alone, his name deserves to be known wherever our language is spoken."

Today A New Voyage Round the World is not only a remarkable time-capsule with fascinating glimpses into the life of the buccaneers, but also a genuinely valuable scientific, social and navigational document written at the very beginnings of Britain's imperial expansion. In light of the Dampier's relevance to students to Cook, we would like you to see this handsome and stunningly illustrated hardback edition for yourself.

Mark Beken, hummingbird press

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1571, volume 22, number 1 (1999).

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