Saturday, April 30, 2016
John Smith writes a "tell all" book about Jamestown.
To begin, John Smith put together a small book called A Map of Virginia. Friends and comrades who had been in Virginia with him and who had seen what happened there after he left wrote part of it, and, as Smith’s biographer and editor, Philip Barbour, said, “Together they wrote the book telling their side of the story, and apparently against the wishes of the Virginia Company together they got it printed in Oxford. . . .” There was nothing the Virginia Company could do about it.
One of the most important books about Virginia ever printed, it contains, as the title promises, a historic map, with Smith’s incomparable description of “the Country, the Commodities, People, Government, and Religion.” But it also contains a narrative of the “Proceedings” of the colony from the voyage of the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery in 1606 to the death of Sir George Somers in Bermuda in 1609. Here, for all of England to read, were firsthand accounts of the explorations, the confrontations with the Indians, the diseases and disasters, and the Starving Time with all its horrors. George Percy, newly returned from Virginia in the fall of 1612, must have been furious. He did not produce his narrative until 1625, and it was not published in his lifetime. A Map of Virginia made another account superfluous.
In 1624, John Smith would publish his masterpiece, The General History of Virginia.
How truthful was John Smith?