WILLIAM BLIGH (1754-1817)
A Narrative of the Mutiny, on board His Majesty's Ship Bounty. London: George Nicol, 1790. 4° (311 x 246mm). 4 engraved maps and plates, 3 folding, all printed on blue paper. (Variable browning, spotting and offsetting.) 20th-century calf-backed marbled boards for J. and E. Bumpus Ltd, Oxford Street, vellum corners, top edge gilt, others uncut (extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: Philip Henry George Gosse (1879-1959, bookplate on upper pastedown).
FIRST EDITION, A BROAD-MARGINED COPY. Bligh's own account of the mutiny, written, published and presented to the Lords of the Admiralty and other influential people in the hope that he might thereby be absolved from any blame over the mutiny. When Fletcher Christian and twenty-four crew mutinied near Tonga on the Bounty's homeward voyage, Bligh and eighteen of his men were forced into the ship's launch and cast off. Armed only with a compass, a quadrant, and a chronometer, Bligh navigated over 4,000 miles of open water through Fiji, up the Australian coast and through the Torres Straits to Timor in 45 days, all the while charting and naming parts of the unknown north-east coast of New Holland. Bligh had first proved himself a great navigator when he sailed on Cook's Third Voyage as Sailing Master aboard Resolution. Court-martial proceedings were held against Bligh and eleven of his men on their return to England in 1790. All were acquitted and that same year Bligh published this Narrative, was promoted to Commander, and made a second attempt to transport bread-fruit trees from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This copy is from the library of the naturalist, doctor, and traveller, Philip Gosse (son of the writer Edmund Gosse), author of Sir John Hawkins (London: 1930), The Histoy of Piracy (London: 1932), and St Helena, 1502-1938 (London: 1938). Ferguson 71; Hill 132.