Hakluyt Society is a text publication society, founded in 1846 and
based in London, England, which publishes scholarly editions of
primary records of historic voyages, travels and other geographical
material. In addition to its publishing role, the Society organises
and participates in meetings, symposia and conferences relating to the
history of geographical exploration and cultural encounter. It is a
registered charity and a non-profitmaking institution administered
by a voluntary team of council members and officers. Membership is
open to all with an interest in its aims.
The Society is named after
Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), a collector
and editor of narratives of voyages and travels and other documents
relating to English interests overseas.
2 Later development
3.1 Extra Series
4 Other activities
6 American Friends of the Hakluyt Society
8 Further reading
10 External links
Richard Hakluyt, after whom the Society is named, pictured in a
stained glass window of c.1905 in Bristol Cathedral
The Society was created at a meeting convened in the London Library,
St James's Square, on 15 December 1846. Under the chairmanship of the
geologist Sir Roderick Murchison, it established an eight-man steering
group which included the geographer and historian William Desborough
Cooley; the Army medical officer Dr Andrew Smith; the naval officer
and surveyor Sir Charles Malcolm; the antiquary Bolton Corney; the
British Museum Principal Librarian Sir Henry Ellis; the physicist and
mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, FRS; and John Edward Gray,
Keeper of Zoology at the British Museum. Cooley had previously
Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society for relying too heavily on
contemporary materials in the solution of geographical problems,
arguing that the scientific study of geography should involve a far
wider analysis and appreciation of earlier sources. He took the major
role during the Society's formative period, assisted by Corney and
Smith, while Murchison occupied little more than a figurehead
Cooley had proposed that the society should be known as the "Columbus
Society", but at the inaugural Council Meeting on 26 January 1847 it
was decided that it be named in commemoration of Richard Hakluyt. Not
only did Hakluyt's name as a recorder of voyages, rather than an
explorer in his own right, better reflect the society's aims, but it
also proclaimed its central ambition, which was to advance Hakluyt's
work into the modern age. A resolution was adopted whereby the Society
would print and circulate to its members, for a subscription of one
guinea per annum, rare accounts of voyages, travels and geographical
records dating from any period prior to William Dampier's
circumnavigation (effectively before the end of the 17th century).
Meetings were initially held in a room at the London Library, but in
1849 transferred to the offices of the Society's printer in St
Martin's Lane, and from 1850 in Great Queen Street. From 1872 they
were held at the Royal Geographical Society's premises, originally in
Savile Row and subsequently in Kensington Gore.
A General Meeting on 4 March 1847 agreed a constitution and a list of
works to be published. The Society was to be governed by a President
(Murchison), two Vice-Presidents (
Charles Malcolm and Revd H. H.
Milman), a Secretary (Cooley) and 17 elected council members. The
first year's Council included – in addition to the members of the
original steering group – Charles Darwin, Charles Beke, Captain
Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune
Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune and the scholar Richard Henry Major.
The Society attracted 220 members in its first two years. Its first
publication, Bethune's Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins, appeared
in December 1847; followed by Major's Select Letters of Christopher
Columbus (printed 1847 but published in January 1848). Richard
Hakluyt's Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America, which the
Society had intended for its inaugural publication, was postponed
until 1850. Meanwhile, Sir Robert Schomburgk's edition of Ralegh's
voyage to Guiana had appeared (1849), together with Cooley's Sir
Francis Drake his Voyage (1849), Thomas Rundall's Voyages towards the
North-West, and Major's Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia.
Early print-runs were relatively small – around 250 copies to
satisfy the existing membership, with a few to spare – at a cost to
the Society in the region of £50–60.
Murchison served as President until his death in 1871, although his
position was largely honorary. He was succeeded by Sir David Dundas
(1871–77), a lawyer and politician, and then by Sir Henry Yule
(1877–89), an Oriental scholar and former East India Company
soldier. Yule took a more direct interest in the editing of the
society's publications than either Murchison or Dundas, and it was his
decision that all future volumes should be indexed. R. H. Major, who
had taken over as Secretary from Cooley in 1849, held the office until
1858 when his place was taken by the geographer, historian and
expedition promoter Clements Markham. Markham served as Secretary
1858–87, and as President 1889–1909, and personally edited no
fewer than 29 volumes. From 1893 he was assisted by William Foster,
East India Company
East India Company historian and India Office archivist, who
served as Secretary until 1902. The first permanent Treasurer,
appointed in 1908, was Edward Heawood, the Royal Geographical
Society's librarian: he remained in office for thirty-eight years.
In 1908, the final year of Markham's rule, the Society broke with
tradition and published its first post-1700 text, Bolton Corney's
Voyage of Captain Don Felipe Gonzalez.
In 1909 Markham was succeeded as President by Sir Albert Gray, an
ex-member of the Ceylon Civil Service. From this time onwards the
Society began to extend its activity beyond that of publication. It
supported the establishment of a memorial to
Richard Hakluyt in
Bristol Cathedral in 1911, and in 1914 Gray represented the Society on
British Academy Committee involved in organising the Shakespeare
Tercentenary. The period also saw the emergence of women as editors
and translators, notably Sigfus Blondal, Bertha Philpotts, Lavinia
Anstey and Zelia Nuttall. Membership increased, largely on account of
institutional subscriptions which by 1911 accounted for half of the
440 members. Sir William Foster, the former Secretary, served as
President 1928–1945, and then as Vice-president until his death in
1951. Foster's skill in annotating rubbed off on his editors and
resulted in a period distinguished by considerable improvements in the
quality of the Society's publications, together with a steady growth
in membership to more than 2000. Foster was succeeded in 1945 by
Edward Lynam, Superintendent of the Map Room at the British Museum
(now the British Library) and the first of a line of post-war
presidents whose terms of office were restricted to a period of five
years. In the post-war period the Society's publication programme
benefited from the labours of those of its voluntary officers who also
took on editorial responsibilities, including R. A. Skelton, Eila
Campbell, Terence Armstrong, Sarah Tyacke, Michael Brennan, Robin Law
and Will Ryan.
The main activity of the Society is the publication of scholarly
editions of primary sources on the voyages and travels undertaken by
individuals in many parts of the globe. These include early accounts
dealing with the geography, ethnology and natural history of the
regions visited. The Society has to date published over 200 editions
in some 350 volumes. All editions are published in English.
Although many of the Society's past editions relate to British
ventures, with documentary sources in English, the majority concern
non-British enterprises and are based on texts in languages other than
English. Translations from Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or
Dutch have regularly appeared, and occasional translations from
Russian, Greek, Latin, Amharic, Mandarin, Persian or Arabic. The
translation in which the material is presented is normally a fresh
version, but has sometimes been an earlier rendering, checked and
corrected as necessary.
All editions contain scholarly annotation to elucidate the
complexities of the text, and to place it in its wider historical
context. Volumes are produced in a standard binding, and generally
contain maps and contemporary illustrations. The Society's logo, which
appears on the cover of all volumes, is a vignette of Ferdinand
Magellan's ship, the Victoria.
Editions have dealt with the following explorers: Ibn Battuta, Fabian
Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Pedro Cieza de León, John Cabot,
Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Cosmas Indicopleustes, James
Cook, Vasco da Gama, Semyon Dezhnev, Francis Drake, Humphrey Gilbert,
Jean-François de La Pérouse, Ludwig Leichhardt, Jan Huyghen van
Linschoten, Ma Huan, Olaus Magnus, Arthur J. M. Jephson, Jens Munk,
William of Rubruck, and George Vancouver.
The Society published 100 volumes in its First Series, from 1847 to
1899. The Second Series ran from 1899 to 1998, and accounted for 190
volumes. The Third Series, in a larger format, began in 1999, and by
the end of 2016 had reached 31 volumes. These included a 3-volume
journal of The Malaspina Expedition, published in association with the
Museo Naval de Madrid.
Currently, two volumes are published on average each year.
In addition to its regular series, the Society publishes a separate
Extra Series, comprising books which are too expensive in their
production to be freely distributed, but which are made available to
members at reduced prices. Publications of this type first appeared in
1903–07 with C. R. Beazley's annotated extracts from Hakluyt, and
the multi-volume MacLehose editions of Hakluyt's Principal Navigations
and Purchas's Pilgrimes. These are now treated as volumes 1–33 of
the Extra Series, although only a few sets of the MacLehose printings
Hakluyt Society binding, and none carried the Extra Series
imprint. The concept was revived and formally designated in the 1950s
with the publication of the Journals of Captain
James Cook (4 volumes,
1955–67, numbered as Extra Series vols 34–37), followed by other
titles including the monumental Charts & Coastal Views of Captain
Cook's Voyages (1988–92). The Extra Series had reached 47 volumes by
the end of 2012.
The Society's Annual General Meeting and Annual Lecture is held at the
Royal Geographical Society. Its website hosts a discussion group and
publishes an online Journal of the Hakluyt Society.
1847–71: Sir Roderick Murchison
1871–77: Sir David Dundas
1877–89: Sir Henry Yule
1889–1909 Sir Clements Markham
1909–28: Sir Albert Gray
1928–45: Sir William Foster
1945–50: Edward Lynam
1950–54: Malcolm Letts
1955–59: Professor J. N. L. Baker
1959–64: Sir Alan Burns
1964–69: Sir Gilbert Laithwaite
1969–72: C. F. Beckingham
1972–78: Esmond S. de Beer
1978–82: Glyndwr Williams
1982–87: David Beers Quinn
1987–92: Sir Harold Smedley
1992–97: Prof. Paul E. H. Hair
1997–2002: Sarah Tyacke
2002–08: Prof. Roy Bridges
2008–11: Prof. Will Ryan
2011–16: Captain Mike Barritt
2016– : Professor Jim Bennett
American Friends of the Hakluyt Society
A sister organisation, The American Friends of the Hakluyt Society,
was founded in 1996 at the
John Carter Brown Library
John Carter Brown Library located on the
campus of Brown University. The American Friends was founded in
conjunction with the 150th anniversary celebration of the Hakluyt
Rhode Island merchant
John Carter Brown
John Carter Brown (1797–1874),
was the first American to join the Society as a charter member in
The American Friends of the
Hakluyt Society exists as a non-profit
corporation with objectives similar to those of the
Hakluyt Society in
London, but with a focus on the history of the Americas. The group
promotes and helps provide financial support from the United States
for the publication of scholarly editions of records of voyages,
travels and other geographical material of the past.
Asher, George (1860). "Henry Hudson the navigator: the original
documents in which his career is recorded, collected, partly
translated, and annotated".
António, Galvão (1862). "The discoveries of the world from their
first original unto the year of our Lord 1555". Translated by Hakluyt,
Narrative of the proceedings of Pedrarias Davila: in the provinces of
Tierra Firme, or Catilla del Oro and of the discovery of the South Sea
and the coasts of Peru and Nicaragua (1865)
Cathay and the way thither: being a collection of medieval notices of
Burnell, Arthur Coke; Tiele, P.A (1885), The voyage of John Huyghen
van Linschoten to the East Indies, from the old English translation of
1598: the first book, containing his description of the East, London:
The Hakluyt Society . Full text at Internet Archive.
Narratives of the voyages of Pedro Sarmiento de Gambóa to the straits
of Magellan (1895)
Morga, Antonio De (2009). The Philippine Islands, Moluccas, Siam,
Cambodia, Japan, and China. Applewood Books. ISBN 1429091398.
Retrieved 24 April 2014.
Mendoza, Juan González de (1970). Staunton, Sir George Thomas, ed.
The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation
Thereof, Volume 1. Compiled by Juan González de Mendoza, Sir George
Thomas Staunton Contributor Sir George Thomas Staunton (reprint ed.).
B. Franklin. ISBN 0833723618. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
Bridges, R. C.; Hair, P. E. H., eds. (1996). Compassing the Vaste
Globe of the Earth: studies in the history of the Hakluyt Society.
Bridges, Roy (2008). "
William Desborough Cooley (1795–1883)".
Geographers Biobibliographical Studies. 27: 43–62.
Crone, G. R. (1962). ""Jewells of Antiquitie": the work of the Hakluyt
Society". Geographical Journal. 128.
Foster, William (1946). "The Hakluyt Society: a retrospect
1846–1946". In Lynam, Edward.
Richard Hakluyt and his Successors: a
volume issued to commemorate the Centenary of the Hakluyt Society.
Hakluyt Society 2nd ser. 93. London: Hakluyt Society.
Middleton, Dorothy (1986). "The Early History of the Hakluyt Society
1847–1923". Geographical Journal. 152: 217–224.
Middleton, Dorothy (1984). "The
Hakluyt Society 1846–1923". Annual
Report for 1984. Hakluyt Society. pp. 12–23.
^ *Charity Commission. Hakluyt Society, registered charity no.
^ "The Journey of
William of Rubruck
William of Rubruck to the Eastern Parts of the
World". The Hakluyt Society. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
Roy Bridges, The Literature of Travel and Exploration: The Work of the
Hakluyt Society.[permanent dead link]
"Publications of the Hakluyt Society". Hakluyt Society. Retrieved 5
"National History and Record Societies:
Hakluyt Society (list of
publications)" (PDF). Royal Historical Society. Retrieved 15 January
Works by The
Hakluyt Society at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about The
Hakluyt Society at Internet Archive