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Histoire Naturelle des Indes: The Drake Manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library

preface by Charles E. Pierce, Jr. ; foreword by Patrick O'Brian ; introduction by Verlyn Klinkenborg ; translations by Ruth S. Kraemer
New York : Norton, c1996.
1st ed
French (also in)
French (translated from)
Uniform Title
Drake manuscript French & English
0393039943, 9780393039948
In 1983, The Pierpont Morgan Library received, as the bequest of Clara S. Peck, an extraordinary volume whose beautiful paintings and descriptions document the plant, animal, and human life of the Caribbean late in the sixteenth century. Spaniards had already begun to exert influence over the indigenous people of the area when explorers from England and France arrived, among them Sir Francis Drake. The book, known as "The Drake Manuscript," and titled Histoire Naturelle des Indes when it was bound in the eighteenth century, gives us a wonderful picture of daily life at the time of Drake's many visits to the region. Although Drake's connection to the manuscript is uncertain, he is mentioned on more than one occasion by the authors. Drake himself is known to have painted, but none of his work survives.
The work presented, here in full facsimile for the first time, is from the hands of two or more artists, most likely French, and the descriptions are French as well. Patrick O'Brian gives us a fascinating account of Drake the voyager. And in Verlyn Klinkenborg's introduction to the facsimile, we are given the background necessary to appreciate this magnificent manuscript to its fullest extent. Charles E. Pierce, Jr.'s preface and Ruth Kraemer's translations of the text round out this rich, beautiful, and historically invaluable book.
xxii, 272 p. : col. ill. ; 31 cm.
  • Facsimile pages not numbered; pagination resumes on page 253.
  • "Though this work is often called the Drake manuscript, it bears on its title page (inserted when it was bound) the name Histoire naturelle des Indes -- The natural history of the Indies. That is an accurate account of its contents, for the volume contains 199 separate images of West Indian plants, animals and Indian life with accompanying captions written in late sixteenth-century French"--Introduction.
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