The Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition… with portraits and biographical sketches of Robert O'Hara Burke, and William John Wills. BURKE, WILLS.
The Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition… with portraits and biographical sketches of Robert O'Hara Burke, and William John Wills.
The Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition… with portraits and biographical sketches of Robert O'Hara Burke, and William John Wills.

The Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition… with portraits and biographical sketches of Robert O'Hara Burke, and William John Wills.
The Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition… with portraits and biographical sketches of Robert O'Hara Burke, and William John Wills.

Melbourne: Wilson and Mackinnon, 1861.

Octavo, iv, 36 pp. (last blank), with a striking lithographic portrait frontispiece of both explorers (later portrait of Wills pasted to rear of frontispiece), well preserved copy in original green titling wrappers housed in a navy quarter morocco bookform box.

A pristine copy in the original wrappers: with the frontispiece portraits of Burke and Wills

Scarce and desirable contemporary booklet reprinting vital accounts of the Burke and Wills tragedy, issued shortly after news of the calamity had reached Melbourne. Its anonymous editor states it was 'not put forth as a history of the Exploring Expedition. It is but the last sad chapter of a sad history…'. Overall this is a serious work, with a postscript lamenting that public hysteria surrounding recent events has diminished the dignity of the perished explorers: 'that for the moment the grandeur of the enterprise, the success of which has been so dearly purchased, is almost overborne by the mass of puerility and littleness to which the subject has given birth.'

Scarce and desirable contemporary booklet reprinting vital accounts of the Burke and Wills tragedy, issued shortly after news of the calamity had reached Melbourne. Its anonymous editor states it was 'not put forth as a history of the Exploring Expedition. It is but the last sad chapter of a sad history…'. Overall this is a serious work, with a postscript lamenting that public hysteria surrounding recent events has diminished the dignity of the perished explorers: 'that for the moment the grandeur of the enterprise, the success of which has been so dearly purchased, is almost overborne by the mass of puerility and littleness to which the subject has given birth.'

Although slim, the minute type of the booklet contains several important testimonies and manuscript entries; including a note sent by Alfred William Howitt from Portia Creek dated 10 October 1861, Burke's last despatch, the narrative of the sole surviving member of the expedition John King, lengthy extracts from the journals of Howitt and Wills and an assortment of notes from Burke scrawled in the desperate last weeks of his life.

Wantrup notes a number of different Wilson & Mackinnon imprints of this title, testament to insatiable public curiosity surrounding the tragedy. All are based upon the "Argus" newspaper accounts; this particular edition is the first to feature the unusually sensitive and detailed frontispiece portrait.

Australian Rare Books, 164a; Ferguson, 7703.

Price (AUD): $1,950.00  other currencies     Ref: #4106096

Condition Report