Coming from afar

Travel historian, Dr Anna P H Geurts, shares with us how visual sources can provide a more nuanced perspective on late 19th-century ideas of ‘distance’ and steam travel. 

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As an historian of travel, I have looked at railway passengers’ experiences of distance. But what was the meaning of distance for the people along the tracks, as they observed the machines carrying those passengers thundering past?

An important painting from the 1880s addresses precisely this question. ‘Il vient de loin’ – he/it comes from afar – by Dutch impressionist Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël has at least three things to say about distance.

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Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, ‘Il vient de loin’

1) This painting problematizes progress. Many visual and literary artworks of the nineteenth century set up a dichotomy between tradition and progress, between nature and technology, between a supposedly static country-side and a dynamic industrial sector. Some artists were enthusiastic about technological developments, others critical, a third group ambiguous.

Gabriël, too, clearly referred to these contemporary concerns in his work. It is no coincidence that Gabriël’s painting is reminiscent of J.M.W. Turner’s famous ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’, which like many works of its time emphasised both the beauty and the threat of steam technology.

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J.M.W. Turner, ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’

Taking just Gabriël’s title – ‘he/it comes from afar’, it makes sense to read this from the perspective of the angler resting against the gate in this Dutch polder landscape: representing the local and the traditional, the angler sees the train ‘coming from afar’. Indeed, the technology of steam locomotion arrived in continental Europe from across the sea – developed in Britain, steam trains may initially have been an exotic technology in the rest of Europe. The steam engines used on the early Dutch railways even continued to be imported from Britain for quite some time, for lack of a local industry.

Of course, ‘afar’ may refer to the individual train in the picture, too. The angler looks like he has just come sauntering into the scene from a nearby farmstead. Within his frame of reference, it might be argued, the train has already travelled a lot of track before entering into view – although we are probably talking about a few tens or hundreds of kilometres at most. Trains cross vast distances; farmers and fisher-people stay put, the painting seems to say.

In all these cases, the new technology can be read as an alien presence in this landscape, and if this was indeed the predominant perception in the 1880s, we should not be too surprised if the railways occasionally met with a hostile reception.

2) What makes Gabriël’s painting interesting, however, is its ambiguity: who exactly is coming from afar? Rather than the train, the title could refer to the angler.

This interpretation makes a lot of sense if we follow the painter’s cue to look at the angler: an Everyman. It is he who comes from afar. That is: humankind has come far: from humbly hunting for food, through shaping the land to make it suitable for farming, to the modern industrial economy. This second interpretation sits equally comfortably with prevalent nineteenth-century views. And so, when looking at the steam engine, the angler is really looking at his own achievements, perhaps pondering whether they please him.

3) But possibly the most interesting view this painting offers on distances has little to do with nineteenth-century debates. Instead, it has everything to do with a sensation that cannot have been unique to the nineteenth century.

We see: a polder landscape. A canal in the middle. On the right: anglers, some ducks. On the left: a telegraph line, the approaching train still in the distance. And two thirds of the painting: sky. A single vanishing point, a simple composition.

What’s more, the entire picture is permeated by the single element of water. The sky is filled with clouds, the air with steam; the land is bisected by a canal and the earth saturated with groundwater. The anglers find their food in the water; the travellers power their movement with the help of water turned into steam. This is a thoroughly wet scene, a scene with much less contrast or conflict than Turner’s ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’.

And so, everything about this balanced picture speaks of quiet. (Apart perhaps from the already restlessly vertical telegraph poles.)

Yet we know the train is coming. Its approaching cloud of steam seems to progressively envelop the land. Not just that, but it moves from the central vanishing point to the front of the scene. It gets all the attention, that of the angler as well as ours.

It will enter the landscape and for a brief moment be at its very foreground, dominating the scene with its noise and its steam, its hard wheels on the track, its smells and its black body towering on the embankment; for a few seconds the angler resting against the gate will hear or see nothing but the train … and then it’ll be gone.

It is this ephemerality, the fleeting quality of this sensation of a train passing by, that Gabriël pictures. He pictures not just the brief moment of the train’s overwhelming presence, but also its absence on either side of that moment.

‘Coming from afar’ then means: being there for an instant only, and soon belonging to another place again.

It is a sensation we know all too well, and one that overlaps with some of the sensations had by people on a train.

And so, in the same decade of 1880, Robert Louis Stevenson published his memorable ‘From a Railway Carriage’:

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
[…]
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Gabriël’s painting forms part of the collections of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands (KM 100.143).

Turner’s painting can be found in the National Gallery, London.

 

Dr Anna P H Geurts (University of Sheffield/ University of Nottingham) is a teacher and researcher at the intersection of spatial history and language. She has published on homeliness, sociability and travel writing and initiated the University of Sheffield Faculty of Arts and Humanities partnership with the British National Railway Museum. This post forms a further reflection on the themes discussed in her article ‘Trains, Bodies, Landscapes: Experiencing Distance in the Long Nineteenth Century’, published in The Journal of Transport History (2019). More about this article can be found on the Historian at Large. Geurts is preparing a book on related themes with Routledge: Travel and Space in Nineteenth-Century Europe.

 

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A 19th-Century Perspective on Ireland – following in the footsteps of John (Fiott) Lee

The Hakluyt Society have recently published their latest edition, A Scientific, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour: John (Fiott) Lee in Ireland, England and Wales, 1806–07, edited by Dr Angela Byrne. The editor, Dr Byrne, gives us an insight into John (Fiott) Lee, his background, his ideas and the challenges of editing his work.

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In July 1806, John Lee set out from London to Holyhead where, four weeks later, he boarded the packet to Dublin. Over the following six months, he walked hundreds of miles, filling five notebooks and three sketchbooks with on-the-spot observations and illustrations.

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‘Curious holly at 7 Churches [Glendalough]’. By John Lee, 11 September 1806 (SJC, MS U.30 (6), f. 62r). By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge.
Born John Fiott in 1783, the son of John Fiott, a merchant, and Harriet Lee of Hartwell, Buckinghamshire, from 1815 he assumed the surname Lee to fulfil the requirements of an inheritance. I refer to him by that name, as it is the one by which he was more commonly known. When he embarked on this tour in 1806, he was a little-known Cambridge mathematics graduate, but later became a well-known man of science, active in over 20 scholarly societies and for a time president of the Royal Astronomical Society.

I was just beginning a study of scientific accounts of sub-Arctic regions when a colleague told me about Lee’s diaries, which the librarian at St John’s College had shown to her. I travelled to Cambridge to assess their potential and was instantly captured by their immediacy, frankness, and detail. I was delighted to learn that, after his Irish tour, Lee spent two years in Sweden as a Worts Travelling Bachelor – having access to his prior experiences in Ireland was of great value in understanding his time in Scandinavia.

I was fortunate to be awarded a three-month Overseas Visiting Scholarship at St John’s in late 2010, enabling me to transcribe Lee’s diaries in their entirety and consult Lee’s extensive archives in Cambridge, the British Library and the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury.

Transcribing the diaries was painstaking work and took almost every day of my three-month fellowship. The diaries are partly written in pencil, which in places is badly faded or smudged. I photographed the entire collection at the outset, and often sat long into the night using digital editing software to try to decipher faded sections. Unfortunately, parts remain undeciphered, despite my efforts.

As challenging as the diaries are – Lee wrote in pencil, in incomplete sentences, used abbreviations, and employed a code in places – they reward close reading and contain delightful surprises. I remember the thrilling moment when Lee addressed me as his “gentle reader”. I enjoy the snippets of conversation and Hiberno-English turns of phrase Lee jotted down, and interactions like the evenings he spent at the fireside of the notorious Sir Thomas Judkin Fitzgerald, known as ‘Flogging Fitzgerald’ for the severity of punishments he meted out to suspected rebels – some of whom were innocent of any wrongdoing – during the 1798 rebellion. Lee savoured Fitzgerald’s brutal tales, but recorded with almost equal care the experiences of those whose poor cabins were burnt to the ground during the conflict. I enjoy the fact that Lee took Irish language lessons from a Cork grocer, and that he jotted down an Irish phrase so that he would to be able to quiz Irish speakers about their locality.

The diaries can be read as a record of a man of science in the making, with their lists of plants, geological observations, and visits to mines. But, equally, the diaries also record Lee’s personality and his sense of humour, enriching the picture of the pious and stern Victorian man of science that emerges from other accounts of his life.

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‘Tower at Roscrea’. By John Lee (SJC, MS U.30 (8), f. 33r). By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge.

The diaries also demonstrate Lee’s social position as the son of a merchant, dependent on a scholarship for his university education. He kept accounts of his spending on food, drink, accommodation and incidentals, clearly motivated by the letters of his uncle and guardian, William Lee Antonie who demanded to know ‘the great advantage you have deriv’d, of either [improvement or economy], from your present residence in Ireland’ and insisting that his nephew reflect seriously on his expenditure.1 Lee also found that his decision to make the most of his journey on foot attracted the opprobrium of Ireland’s innkeepers, who viewed with suspicion any person arriving without a carriage. Lacking the outward marks of respectability, he was, on more than one occasion, refused accommodation.

My introduction to the edition provides some context for Lee’s interpretation of the landscapes he walked through – particularly his engagement with the picturesque and his understanding of Irish history – as well as his particular perspective as a scientific traveller. The critical apparatus includes explanatory notes on people and places mentioned by Lee, but these should not be considered exhaustive.

I have enjoyed living with Lee for the past eight years, and I hope that this first edition of his diaries will not only prove a useful resource for students of travel writing, local history and folk traditions, but may, in time, prompt renewed interest in Lee’s life and pursuits.

Dr Angela Byrne

 

Dr Angela Byrne is Research Associate at Ulster University and in 2018-19 is Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Historian-in-Residence at EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. She has previously held positions at the University of Greenwich, National University of Ireland Maynooth, University of Toronto, and the Royal Irish Academy. She is author of Geographies of the Romantic North: Science, Antiquarianism, and Travel, 1790–1830 (Palgrave, 2013) and is co-editor (with Sebastian Sobecki) of Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations of the English Nation(1598–1600), vol. II (Oxford University Press, in preparation). She is currently preparing a monograph on Irish–Russian contacts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 

 

CFP: Hakluyt Society Symposium 2019: Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters

Call for Papers

The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2019

Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters (1400-1900)

5-6 September 2019

Leiden University, the Netherlands

Organised in collaboration with the Linschoten-Vereeniging, Itinerario, and Leiden University’s Institute for History

Deadline: 1 March 2019

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Keynote: Joshua Reid (UW Seattle).

Speakers confirmed: Pepijn Brandon (VU), Nathalia Brichet (Aarhus), Kevin Dawson (UC Merced), Mariana de Campos Françozo (Leiden), John McAleer (Southampton), Elsje van Kessel (St. Andrews), Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge).


Maritime histories have always told stories about power. Whether in the form of narratives about mastery of the seas, conquest of lands, or enslavement of peoples, traditional accounts of enterprising explorers and hardy mariners have located power and agency with a limited groups of actors: almost always male, and predominantly European. In doing so, histories of maritime encounters have mostly reproduced the perspectives contained in their sources, foregrounding the actions of European men and casting other actors as largely passive, peripheral, or powerless. These histories are in need of revision.

This conference seeks to explore new narratives of maritime power, to investigate the ways in which power was constituted and contested, how it was gendered and racialised, and through what strategies it was subverted or resisted. It aims to bring together historians working on (the limits of) state and non-state power, multiple actors and traditions of seafaring and exploration, and the agency of women, enslaved people, and other historically marginalised groups. Moreover, by expanding the focus to include environmental histories, this conference seeks to reconsider interrelations between humans and their marine surroundings.

This two-day conference will host senior experts and early career researchers in a cross-disciplinary conversation aimed at critically rethinking the role of power in maritime history. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Asymmetrical power relations
  • Global actors and agency
  • Writing and discursive power
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Maritime power and the environment
  • Materiality and maritime encounters
  • Maritime encounters and spatiality
  • Resistance, mutinies, rebellions
  • Slavery and maritime labour

Held in the historic city of Leiden, Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters is organised by the Hakluyt Society in collaboration with the Linschoten-Vereeniging. Prospective speakers are invited to submit proposals of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers along with a brief bio statement to hakluytleiden2019@gmail.com by 1 March 2019. Contributions from postgraduate researchers are particularly encouraged.

The Hakluyt Society will make available five travel bursaries (up to £200 each) to postgraduate and early career applicants with limited access to funding – if you would like to apply for a bursary, please indicate this when sending your abstract and explain your reasons for applying. Reduced registration fees apply for members of the Hakluyt Society and Linschoten-Vereeniging.

Organising committee: Michiel van Groesen, Carolien Stolte, Suze Zijlstra (Universiteit Leiden), and Guido van Meersbergen (University of Warwick)

Download CFP and poster.


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Just a reminder… Hakluyt Society Research Funding 2019 DEADLINE

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The Hakluyt Society has issued its annual invitation to apply for research grants and fellowships. Details can be found at:

 

www.hakluyt.com/hak_soc_special_funding.htm

 

The Hakluyt Society promotes the study of historical exploration, travel, and worldwide cultural encounter. More details can be found on the Application Form

 

The deadline for applications is 31 January 2019.

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Hakluyt Society Research Funding 2019

For the fourth year running, the Hakluyt Society in pleased to announce its annual round of Research Funding. In furtherance of the principal objects of the Hakluyt Society, to promote the study of historical exploration, travel, and worldwide cultural encounter, the Society operates two schemes of research funding. These are:

  • The Hakluyt Society Research Grant, up to six of which will be available per calendar year, with a maximum allocation of £1500 each.
  • The Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship, two of which will be available per calendar year. The Fellowship may be held for a maximum of four months, with a maximum allowance of £1650 per month. 

These funding opportunities are open to anyone whose research interests meet with and promote the objects of the Hakluyt Society. All applicants must be members of the Hakluyt Society, and applications must be received by 31 January 2019.

Please ensure that you have read the guidelines below before completing the Application Form.


 

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Guidelines

1. Hakluyt Society funding is given to support and extend the stated aims of the Society. The primary aim of the Society is ‘to advance knowledge and education by the publication of scholarly editions of primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material’. In addition, the Society also undertakes and supports activities supplementary to its primary role as a publisher of scholarly texts: ‘by organizing and participating in meetings, symposia and conferences which contribute to an increased awareness of geographical exploration and cultural encounter’. Applicants should state clearly in their application how the proposed project meets the aims of the Society

2. The applicant must be a member of the Hakluyt Society at the time of application. (For further information about membership and the activities of the Hakluyt Society, please visit www.hakluyt.com).

3. In completing the form, applicants should make clear which one of the two funding sources is being applied for. It is not possible to apply for both of the funding sources in the same year. In the event of successful application, further financial support from the Society will not normally be considered within two years.

4. The Abstract should be written in language suitable for a non-academic audience and outline the importance and timeliness of the work proposed and its fit to the work of the Society. The section Description of the Research, should place the nature of the research proposed in relation to the relevant scholarly literature and identify the originality and significance of the work proposed.

5. Where relevant, the library/archive or other repository to be visited should be identified, as should the expected time frame in which the research will be undertaken. The application should detail the number of working days that will be spent at the library/archive/repository in question.

6. The Budget must give projected costs in as much detail as possible, and should justify the levels of expenditure proposed.

7. Plans for communication of the research should be fully explained. These should also be realistic and precisely stated.

8. Applicants should note that the funding is intended to cover the costs associated with the conduct of research (including reasonable travel and subsistence expenses), and is not for an applicant’s ongoing maintenance expenses during the period of research. Maintenance can be paid, however, for periods when the research requires the applicant to live away from home. Please note that Hakluyt Society research funding is for research with identifiable publication plans only and may not be used simply for dissertation research or write-up. Funding will not be given for computer hardware or software costs. If applicants are in any doubt over allowable costs, they are advised to contact the Society.

9. Successful applicants are required to acknowledge the support of the Hakluyt Society in any resultant Hakluyt Society publication, other research publication or in events of outreach and dissemination.

10. The maximum sum available for a Hakluyt Society Research Grant (HSRG) is £1500. Normally, there will be up to six Hakluyt Society Research Grants available in any one research funding year (April to March). Normally, there will be two Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowships available in any funding year. The Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship (HSSTF) may be held for a maximum of four calendar months. The maximum sum available for the Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship will be £1650 per calendar month (i.e., the maximum sum that may be sought is £6600). Normally, there will be two Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship available in any one funding year.

Normally, in the event of successful application, the sum awarded will be paid directly to the named applicant. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide the Society with full details of the bank account into which the award should be paid. Upon completion of the project for which an award has been made, the applicant is expected to provide the Society with a summary of the expenditure, with itemized receipts for the same, a brief report of the work undertaken and a blog post on the work or some aspect of it, suitable for publication on the Hakluyt Society Blog. The Society (at office@hakluyt.com) would like to receive the summary of expenditure, report and blog post as soon as possible after the research is completed, but requires them no later than one month after the research funding year, i.e. by 30 April 2019.

11. Successful candidates will receive notification of the outcome of their application. Due to the volume of applications, please note that the Society is unable to enter into correspondence on individual unsuccessful applications. The Society reserves the right to invite selected unsuccessful candidates to develop their proposals further to reapply in subsequent rounds, and may provide additional feedback in such cases.


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The voyage of Captain John Narbrough to the Strait of Magellan and the South Sea in his Majesty’s Ship Sweepstakes 1669-1671

The Hakluyt Society is pleased to present its newest publication: The Voyage of Captain John Narbrough to the Strait of Magellan and the South Sea in his Majesty’s Ship Sweepstakes, 1669-1671, edited by Richard J. Campbell, Peter T. Bradley, and Joyce Lorimer. Purchased in 2009 by the British Library, John Narbrough’s fair copy of the journal of his voyage through the Strait of Magellan and north to Valdivia in the Sweepstakes (1669-1671) is now published for the first time, together with an incomplete and somewhat different copy of the journal, held in the Bodleian Library. The Hakluyt Society publication furthermore contains previously unpublished records made by members of Narbrough’s company, as well as reproductions of the charts on which he relied and those he produced. In this blog post, Captain Richard Campbell explains the circumstances of Narbrough’s voyage and the scholarly significance of the new edition.


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In May 1669 Captain John Narbrough was appointed to command HMS Sweepstakes for a voyage to the West Indies, Shortly thereafter an adventurer who has gone down in history as Don Carlos (he gave different versions of his name, nationality and accounts of his life to virtually everyone with whom he came in contact) submitted a proposal to King Charles II for a voyage to South America with an apparent view to establishing trading relation with the native inhabitants and stirring up a rebellion against the Spanish authorities. The King, having had this proposal investigated, agreed to sending a frigate with a pink in company on a voyage of discovery with a view to investigating the prospects of trade.

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Narbrough, whose ship was by this time anchored in the Downs, was recalled to London where he was personally instructed by the King and the Lord High Admiral, James, Duke of York to embark Don Carlos and sail for South America, south of the Río de la Plata and discover the coast round through the Strait of Magellan as far north as Valdivia, making contact with the native inhabitants and ascertaining what the prospects were for trade, with the evident unwritten aim of trying to encroach on the Spanish access to the gold in the area. It is quite clear in Narbrough’s instructions that the King did not trust Don Carlos, but Narbrough was ordered to take his advice if he found him to have any knowledge of the area they were to visit.

An account of this voyage was published in 1669 with a second edition in 1711. This is an abbreviated version of a manuscript in the Bodleian Museum, augmented by the journal kept by Lieutenant Peckett, one of Narbrough’s officers.

The voyage resulted in a series of charts of the harbours visited and of the Strait of Magellan, which became the basic standard of all subsequent charts of the Strait for the next hundred years, together with the knowledge that trade in that area would be impracticable. While in Valdivia, a Lieutenant and three members of Narbrough’s company were detained by the Spanish Governor who refused all requests for their release. Narbrough, whose company by this time was reduced to about 70 people, with a garrison of over 600 Spaniards ashore, and having been expressly forbidden by the King from taking any military action against the Spanish, was forced to leave them there (together with Don Carlos who had been secretly landed at his own request and subsequently surrendered to the Spanish).

On his return to England, Narbrough was well received by the King and immediately re-employed. He went on to have a very distinguished career, being knighted and serving as Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean and a Commissioner of the Navy.

Narbrough map
‘A Draught of Porte San Julyan’ (British Library, BL, Add MSS 88980C)

In the nineteenth century, largely as a result of Admiral Burney’s very unfavourable account of the voyage, it came to be considered a complete disaster – he wrote “It might ironically have been said, that the business of Narbrough’s voyage was to set four men ashore at Baldivia. The persons landed were left to their fate without interference being made on their behalf by the British Government.”[1] This view of the voyage has largely persisted until the present day.

In 2009, the British Library launched a successful appeal to purchase Narbrough’s own manuscript of this voyage, which in the current Hakluyt Society edition is now published in full for the first time, together with the complete Bodleian manuscript; the journal of Lieutenant Peckett; the “short accompt” of Richard Williams, and the journal of William Chambers, who was mate of the pink which accompanied the Sweepstakes for the first part of the voyage. There are also extracts from John Woods’ account and sailing directions, which were abbreviated, combined and published by William Hack in 1699 (of which there are modern reproductions available).  It has also been possible to locate Don Carlos’ original proposals in The National Archives and make use of various other Spanish archives to fill out the picture of his activities.

The new Hakluyt Society edition presents a much fuller account of the voyage than that published in 1694, together with detail of its advent, and seeks to demonstrate that Narbrough carried out his instructions to the letter, and that despite the loss of his men in Valdivia the voyage fulfilled the Kings orders. It also aims to reinstate Narbrough as the exceedingly competent and courageous naval officer he undoubtedly was, and give the voyage its proper place in the hydrographic history of the Strait of Magellan.


Captain Richard J. Campbell, OBE., Royal Navy, joined BRNC Dartmouth as a Cadet in 1946. After service in submarines he specialised in Hydrograhic Surveying. He worked in various regions round the world including Antarctica and the Falkland Islands when he visited the Strait of Magellan. His last command was HMS Hydra serving as a Hospital Ship in the Falkland War in 1982, after which he served in the UK Hydrographic Office until his retirement in 1994. His previous publications for the Hakluyt Society include: The Discovery of the South Shetland Islands / The Voyage of the Brig Williams, 1819-1820 and The Journal of Midshipman C.W. Poynter (3rd series, no. 4); and ‘The Journal of HMS Beagle in the Strait of Magellan, by Pringle Stokes, Commander RN 1827′, in: Four Travel Journals / The Americas, Antarctica and Africa / 1775-1874 (3rd series, no. 18).

[1] Burney, James, A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean (5 vols, London 1803-17), Vol III, p. 375.


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Hakluyt Society Essay Prize 2019 (deadline: 30 November 2018)

For the fifth year running, submissions are invited for the annual Hakluyt Society Essay Prize. The award (or more than one, if the judges so decide) has this year seen an increase in value to a maximum total of £1,000. The prize or prizes for 2019 will be presented, if possible, at the Hakluyt Society’s Annual General Meeting in London in June 2019. Winners will also receive a one-year membership of the Hakluyt Society. The Society hopes that the winning essay will be published, either in the Society’s online journal or in a recognised academic journal.

Joint winners of the 2018 Essay Prize were Darren Smith (University of Sydney) and Whitney Robles (Harvard University). Previous winners include Owain Lawson (2015), Nailya Shamgunova (2016), and Annemarie Mclaren (2017). You can read about their winning essays herehere and here.


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Eligibility criteria

The competition is open to any registered graduate student at a higher education institution (a university or equivalent) or to anyone who has been awarded a graduate degree in the past three years. Proof of student status or of the date of a degree must accompany any submission. Allowance can be made for maternity leave.

Scope and subject matter

Before considering the submission of an essay, entrants should visit the Hakluyt Society’s web-site (www.hakluyt.com) to make themselves aware of the object of the Society and the scope and nature of its publications. Essays should be based on original research in any discipline in the humanities or social sciences, and on an aspect of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter or their effects, in the tradition of the work of the Society.

Essays should be in English (except for such citations in languages other than English as may appear in footnotes or endnotes) and between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length (including notes, excluding bibliography). Illustrations, diagrams and tables essential to the text fall outside the word count. Submissions should be unpublished, and not currently in press, in production or under review elsewhere.

Submission procedures and deadline

Essays should be submitted as email attachments in Word.doc format to The Administrator at office@hakluyt.com by 30 November 2018. The entrant’s name, address (including preferred email address), institutional affiliation (if any, with date of admission), and degrees (if any, with dates of conferment) should appear within the body of the email, together with a note of the title of the submitted essay. The subject line of the email should include the words ‘HAKLUYT SOCIETY ESSAY PRIZE’ and the author’s name. By submitting an essay, an entrant certifies that it is the entrant’s own original work.

Selection procedure

The Judging Panel encourages innovative submissions that make an important contribution to knowledge, or a critical or methodological contribution to scholarship. The panel and selected reviewers will pay attention to the analytical rigour, originality, wider significance, depth and scope of the work, as well as to style and presentation. The panel comprises selected academic faculty from among past and present members of the Hakluyt Society’s Council, including the editorial board of The Journal of the Hakluyt Society.

The Prize Committee reserves the right not to award a prize, if no submission is judged to be of sufficient merit. The Committee’s decision will be announced in April 2019.

NOTE: Prize winners agree to acknowledge the receipt of their award in any future publication of the prize essay. In addition, they will be expected to contribute to the Society’s public dissemination as appropriate. This may include, but is not limited to, presenting a paper at a Hakluyt Society symposium (in which case travel expenses within the UK will be reimbursed) and contributing to the Hakluyt Society blog.

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