A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia


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In 1585-6, Sir Richard Grenville led the first English attempt to found a colony in North America. Although this settlement was not blessed with success as a colonization attempt, it was blessed by the presence of the great recording artist John White and the scientific adviser Thomas Harriot. Together, they gave the first report of its kind which can, as Paul Hulton says in the introduction, justifiably be described as scientific in both text and illustration. This, the second in a Dover series of reprints of great rare books from the Rosenwald Collection, is the unabridged reproduction of their important work. 

The most important section of the report today is on the people living near Roanoke, the now extinct Southeastern Algonkians. Here, John White illustrates the villages, methods of dress, boat making, fishing, cooking and ceremonies in a style of unprecedented realism. In the drawings White displays his ability to capture all the important social as well as ethnological characteristics of the people who seemed so strange to other recording artists before him. His drawings and De Bry’s engravings after the drawings, reprinted here, served as models for other artists even after the tribe which he had pictured had, as a distinct social group, long since disappeared. Harriot’s notes further describe what White had drawn.

The two other sections were primarily written as advertisements for the new colony. In the title section, Harriot discusses the commodities of the New World. Here he also discusses some of the adventures of the colonists with the native Indians. The final section contains five illustrations of the legendary Picts of Britain to provide a comparison with the natives of the new land. The introduction by Paul Hulton gives the background of the voyage, presents five original drawings for comparison with De Bry’s engravings, and gives a background on the writer, the artist, and the manuscript which they produced.

In 1590, De Bry published this work as the first in his series, America. As then, the report is still one of the finest combinations of text and illustration in showing the natives of the new found land. As a report of the lost people, the Southeastern Algonkians, it is the only complete report we now possess. As a report which shows the hopes of the Elizabethans in the New World, it captures the original careful observations of Harriot and White, the blessed colonists of the new found land.

Title: A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia
Author: Thomas Harriot
Published: 1590 (Original), 1972 (Reprint)
Pages: 112
Dimensions: 8.25 x 0.31 x 11 inches
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0486210926

Additional information

Weight 0.72 lbs
Dimensions 8.25 × 0.31 × 11 in

Publication Year

1590, 1972