London: Reprinted for J. Johnson, 1792. FIRST ENGLISH EDITION. With frontispiece portrait, folding map and 7 engraved plates (1 folding). Later half morocco and marbled boards with gold tooled spine, raised bands, and black title label; a very clean copy with minor stains only affecting just the edges of the end papers. Item #15017
First London edition. An important volume that combines an account of the author’s travels and his natural history observations of the southeastern United states, this work is noted by Sabin as “unequalled for the vivid picturesqueness of its descriptions of nature, scenery, and productions.” Based on five years of study in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, Bartram’s work includes significant commentary on the Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes as well as descriptions of the flora, fauna, and geography of the region. In fact, had it not been for considerable publication delays (not the least of which was due to the American Revolution), Bartram would have been recognized as having discovered a number of species; nevertheless, this work secured his reputation and influenced a wide range of thinkers from the scientific community to writers like Henry David Thoreau. “Beyond its scientific importance, the Travels exerted a profound influence on travel literature and on the Romantic movement: Fagin described the work as ‘the first genuine and artistic interpretation of the American landscape’ (Fagin, 10). Its florid, luxuriant style and vivid imagery caught the attention of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and François-August Chateaubriand, who extracted portions into their notebooks” (ODNB). Stevenson similarly called it “a minor monument of American literature, with vigor of style and excellent pictorial detail.”
Bartram (1739–1823) was an American botanist and ornithologist, son of the naturalist and explorer John Bartram. As a young man William Bartram worked closely with his father, who had been named Royal Botanist to George III, and accompanied him on several trips to various regions of the eastern United States - excursions that would lay the foundation for his later work. Bartram was an influential figure in the careers of several notable naturalists, including Thomas Nuttall, Thomas Say, and Alexander Wilson.