A Narrative of the Mutiny on Board His Majesty’s Ship Bounty; and the Subsequent Voyage of Part of the Crew, In the Ships Boat from Tofua, one of the Friendly Islands, To Timor, Dutch Settlement in the East Indies.

Rare First Edition of William Bligh's A Narrative of the Mutiny on Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty; in the rare original boards

A Narrative of the Mutiny on Board His Majesty’s Ship Bounty; and the Subsequent Voyage of Part of the Crew, In the Ships Boat from Tofua, one of the Friendly Islands, To Timor, Dutch Settlement in the East Indies.

BLIGH, Lieutenant William.

$9,200.00

Item Number: 109832

London: Printed for George Nicol, 1790.

First edition of Bligh’s firsthand account of “one of the most remarkable incidents in the whole of maritime history [which ultimately absolved him] from any blame that might be levelled against him because of the incident” (Hill). Quarto, original boards, lacking the spine, engraved folding plan “A copy of the draft from which the Bounty’s launch was built”, three engraved folding charts  J. Walker after W. Harrison. In very good condition. Scarce in the original boards.

The HMS Bounty was acquired by the Royal Navy in 1787 to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti (then rendered "Otaheite"), a Polynesian island in the south Pacific, to the British colonies in the West Indies. Command of the expedition was given to Lieutenant William Bligh, whose experiences included Captain James Cook's third and final voyage (1776–80) in which he had served as sailing master, or chief navigator, on HMS Resolution. HMS Bounty left Spithead on 23 December 1787 with Bligh as captain, accompanied by a 44-man crew, two botanists, David Nelson and William Brown, and a diarist, James Morrison. Bligh reached Tahiti on 26 October 1788; after more than five months, the Bounty sailed for the West Indies laden with "more than 1,000 young breadfruit plants". On 28 April, after a few weeks at sea, Fletcher Christian, the master's mate, led sections of the crew in a mutiny and commandeered the Bounty, setting Bligh and 18 loyal crewmen adrift in a 23-foot long launch. Despite being given little in terms of navigational tools, Bligh reached Coupang modern day Kupang, Timor, then a Dutch East India settlement on 14 June 1789, after a 3,500 mile long voyage. During this "hazardous journey Bligh took the opportunity to chart and name parts of the unknown north-east coast of New Holland as he passed along it an extraordinary feat of seamanship" (Wantrup, Australian Rare Books 1788-1900). By the time of his return to England in August 1793, following his successful conveyance of breadfruit to the West Indies aboard Providence, professional and public opinion had turned against him. The present first edition of Bligh's account appeared two years prior to the full official version which pardoned him of any misconduct in the incident.

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