A rare publication on the death of Captain Cook
Collections / Uncategorized - Posted 28-01-2019
The Library has bought a very rare book by a Welshman who was present when the explorer Captain James Cook was killed. David Samwell was born in Denbighshire in 1751. He had a particular interest in English and Welsh literature and in the Welsh cultural movements of his time, and wrote a great deal of poetry in Welsh and English. He was President of the Gwyneddigion Society in 1797. The Library owns his manuscripts, including correspondence with Iolo Morganwg.
Samwell sailed with Captain Cook as “surgeon’s first mate” on the Resolution in 1776 and witnessed Cook’s death in a skirmish with natives in Hawaii in 1779. He wrote a full account of the event, and after his return to England published it in 1786 under the title A narrative of the death of Captain James Cook. The Library already has two copies of this. But in the same year, a French translation was published with the title Détails nouveaux et circonstanciés sur la mort du Capitaine Cook. This is particularly rare, with only three known copies in other libraries throughout the world, so when a copy came up for sale we took the opportunity to add this important item to the collections of the National Library of Wales.
Rare Books Librarian
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