Edited by the literary commentator and publicist John Hawkesworth and often referred to simply as 'Hawkesworth's Voyages', this three volume set is an account of the voyages around the world by the English explorers Byron, Wallis, Carteret and Cook (ENDEAVOUR voyage) during the second half of the 18th century. Cook was highly critical of the work, a fact that led him to take control of the publication of the account of his second voyage. Despite criticism, 'Hawkesworth's Voyages' proved popular. William Bligh is known to have carried a set of the volumes aboard the BOUNTY as part of his library, and it is thought that Fletcher Christian consulted these when looking for a place to settle in the Pacific.
SignificanceThis three volume set was popular and proved to be an influential reference work highlighting English voyages of exploration in the Pacific in the second half of the 18th century.
HistoryBorn in about 1715, John Hawkesworth was a literary commentator, political journalist and publicist. His work brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and in 1771 he was commissioned to produce a narrative account of the English voyages of exploration of John Byron (HMS DOLPHIN), Samuel Wallis (HMS DOLPHIN), Philip Carteret (HMS SWALLOW) and James Cook (HMB ENDEAVOUR). Given free access to the original voyage journals, Hawkesworth used considerable editorial license to create a chronological narrative, often at the expense of historical accuracy. James Cook was appalled at the liberties taken by Hawkesworth in editing the ENDEAVOUR voyage account when he finally got to see the work when he arrived at the Cape of Good Hope in 1775 on his way back to England on his second voyage. Hawkesworth was already dead (1773) but based on his inaccuracies, Cook determined to take greater control in the publication of his second voyage account.