The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles
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The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles is a book written by Captain John Smith, first published in 1624. The book is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, histories of the territory administered by the Virginia Company of London.
Originally, two English joint-stock companies had been created to settle North America, then known as Virginia. The London Company was given a charter for a swathe of the continent south of that given to the Plymouth Company. Both companies established settlements in 1607 (the London Company in Jamestown). Although its settlement was soon abandoned, and its charter eventually taken over by the London Company, thenceforth, the territory included in the Plymouth Company's charter was defined as New England. The term Virginia came to refer only to that part of North America covered by the London Company's original charters. The third charter, of 1612, extended its territory far enough across the Atlantic to include the Somers Isles (named for Admiral of the Virginia Company, Sir George Somers), or Bermuda, which the Virginia Company had been in unofficial possession of since the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture.
Following his return to England, John Smith fell out of favour with the directors of the Virginia Company. Despite this, he wrote a series of publications about the English colonial effort in North America, although, in his accounts, he marginalised the Company's involvement. The Generall Historie was based in large part on information he was given by others, as he had not personally witnessed what had happened in the years between his leaving Virginia and publishing the book. He had never visited Bermuda, which had been separated from Virginia to be managed by the Somers Isles Company (formed in 1615 by the shareholders of the Virginia Company). His information on Bermuda may have come from the then Governor, Nathaniel Butler, who probably provided the drawing which was the basis of the engraving printed in the Historie, a map, and illustrations of important sites in that colony (fig. 2).
The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles was first printed by I.D and I. H. for Michael Sparkes in 1624. Other editions followed in 1625, 1626, 1627, 1629, 1631, and 1632.
- Complete PDF version of The Generall Historie of Virginia American Journeys
- Complete text of the Generall Historie American Memory
- Texts of Imagination & Empire, by Emily Rose, Princeton University Folger Shakespeare Library
- The New York Times: Beyond Pocohantas. Book review of The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, Edited by Philip L. Barbour.