The History of New Holland, from its first discovery in 1616, to the present time.
The History of New Holland, from its first discovery in 1616, to the present time. With a Particular Account of its Produce and Inhabitants; and a Description of Botany Bay: Also, a List of the Naval, Marine, Military, and Civil Establishment to which is prefixed, An Introductory Discourse on Banishment, By the Right Honourable William Eden.

London: Stockdale, 1787.

Octavo, with two folding maps hand coloured in outline; a good copy in old half calf, marbled boards; owner's inscription on title-page ('Richard Watts jun. 1790').

Botany Bay for First Fleeters

A very important book, and a sometimes neglected First Fleet item: this was one of the earliest descriptions of Australia, published to coincide with the departure from England of the First Fleet. 'It is an extremely interesting work and an essential inclusion in all comprehensive collections' (Davidson).

A very important book, and a sometimes neglected First Fleet item: this was one of the earliest descriptions of Australia, published to coincide with the departure from England of the First Fleet. 'It is an extremely interesting work and an essential inclusion in all comprehensive collections' (Davidson).

The anonymous compiler discusses the fleet's imminent departure and lists the numbers and equipment of the fleet as well as the principal officers, and there is also material in both preface and text about transportation, as well as an "Introductory Discourse" on the subject by William Eden which has often led to the misattribution of the whole book to him.

This is an example of the important second edition, published the same year as the first and after parliamentary approval of the Botany Bay plans, and with a very significant new section: an additional ten prefatory pages appear for the first time in this edition, discussing in detail the hopes for the new settlement. The anonymous writer reports that many of the convicts awaiting transportation have embraced the idea with excitement: 'strange to tell! there have not been wanting voluntary candidates for banishment to that remote shore…'.

The "Eden", as it is often called, was written 'to present at one view a connected description of the whole country of New Holland'. The book is clearly aimed at a public eager for information on the new colonial venture, and for details of Botany Bay itself, which is here described at length. This is the form in which many of the participants in the First Fleet must have absorbed what little information existed about conditions in Australia. The maps show the continent, Botany Bay and most interestingly the 'passage from England to Botany Bay in New Holland 1787', showing clearly the route that the fleet must take.

The book is of some importance too for its Cook material: as Cook's bibliographer Holmes points out, 'the greater part of the book is devoted to Cook's discoveries…'. His charting of the east coast of Australia is here put into context in a form anticipating the actual settlement of the new coastline.

Provenance: Private collection New South Wales

Ferguson, 25;Beddie, 28; Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 79-81; Holmes, 66 (the first edition); not in the Hill collection.

Condition Report: Some ageing throughout.

Price (AUD): $5,750.00

US$4,265.44   Other currencies

Ref: #4504512

Condition Report