Item #5000647 A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay; with an Account of New South Wales, its Productions, Inhabitants, &c., to which is subjoined a list of the Civil and Military Establishments at Port Jackson. Captain Watkin TENCH.
A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay; with an Account of New South Wales, its Productions, Inhabitants, &c., to which is subjoined a list of the Civil and Military Establishments at Port Jackson.

A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay…
A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay; with an Account of New South Wales, its Productions, Inhabitants, &c., to which is subjoined a list of the Civil and Military Establishments at Port Jackson.

London: J. Debrett, 1789.

Octavo, complete with the half-title and the final leaf of Debrett's advertisements; an excellent and large copy, edges uncut, in a traditional binding of half calf and marbled boards by Aquarius.

The first authentic account of the settlement to appear in print

A particularly good copy, completely uncut, of the elusive first edition of the first eye-witness account of Australia's first white settlement. The first copies appeared for sale in London on 4 April 1789, before the publication of the official account by Governor Phillip. Tench's book not only predates the other First Fleet accounts, but it is also arguably the most readable and the most sympathetic. John White's journal apart, the others are more or less official in tone; none has the directness of Tench's description of life in the first days of the colony.

A particularly good copy, completely uncut, of the elusive first edition of the first eye-witness account of Australia's first white settlement. The first copies appeared for sale in London on 4 April 1789, before the publication of the official account by Governor Phillip. Tench's book not only predates the other First Fleet accounts, but it is also arguably the most readable and the most sympathetic. John White's journal apart, the others are more or less official in tone; none has the directness of Tench's description of life in the first days of the colony.

This first edition has become noticeably rare on the market: surprisingly there was only a second edition in the Davidson collection. This copy, uncut and complete with the often missing two leaves at beginning and end, is particularly desirable. 'It is a rare book in first edition and much sought after, even more so as collectors gradually realise its significance as the earliest printed record of the first settlement…' (Wantrup).

Tench signs off the preface to his book "Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales, July 10, 1788"; the manuscript made the journey back to England and appeared quickly in print, Tench having come to an arrangement with the London publisher, Debrett, before he left England. For years thought to have been published on 24 April 1789, it has now been conclusively shown that the book actually appeared on 4 April, a scant fortnight after the first vessels of the First Fleet returned and just days rather than weeks after the various "Officer" and other chapbook accounts, which adds something to our understanding of the first rush of British interest in news from down-under. Tench's account was markedly popular, not surprisingly in view of the large public that would have been curious for news of the colony, and three editions in English, a Dublin piracy, as well as French, German, Swedish and Dutch translations all appeared in very short order.

Tench played an important role in the early exploration of the area around Sydney (he discovered the Nepean River and traced it to the Hawkesbury, and began the many attempts to conquer the Blue Mountains). Yet his most important role in the history of the convict settlement at Sydney Cove was as a writer who spread information for the general public in Britain while preserving important details for posterity. He was a lively, good-humoured and cultured member of the new society, and these qualities come through in his book which gives a vivid picture of the voyage out, and the establishment of the town at Sydney Cove. Apart from its importance as the first genuine description of the new colony, Tench's narrative provides us with the clearest of the surviving images of the first crucial months of settlement.

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Crittenden, 'A Bibliography of the First Fleet', 222; Ferguson, 48; Hill, 1685; Wantrup, 2.

Condition Report: In excellent condition; some of the uncut edges slightly dusty, a very small brown spot in extreme lower forecorner of eight leaves towards end.

Price (AUD): $18,750.00

US$12,112.63   Other currencies

Ref: #5000647

Condition Report