The Library at Soho Square: Matthew Flinders, Sir Joseph Banks and the Publication of A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814)

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Abstract

Matthew Flinders's major work, 'a voyage to Terra Australis: Undertaken for the Purpose of Completing the Discovery of that Vast Country, and Prosecuted in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in His Majesty's Ship the Investigator', appeared in 1814, eleven years after the voyage it describes finished, and just days before he died. Although it has now become a canonical work in Australian history and a copy of the first edition is a highly-prized and expensive investment, at the time it was published it did not sell well. The moment had passed - during the intervening decade Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor and made a battleground of the whole of Europe, and the distant activities of a surveying expedition must have seemed irrelevant to many who had been confronted with these more urgent and proximate events. As Ingleton points out, in respect of Flinders's prospects of promotion or financial support while writing the 'Voyage', "the war had been long and relentless, and promotion came when vacancies occurred.... Possibly the lords commissioners of the Admiralty were beginning to consider that Flinders had been rewarded sufficiently for the explorations and surveys he had made so long ago."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-186
Number of pages18
JournalScript & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
Volume41
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Flinders, Matthewm 1774-1814
  • Authorship - sociological aspects
  • Publishers and publishing
  • Voyages and travels - historiography

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