Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) is extremely important in encouraging English expansion overseas during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. His publications of travels in foreign lands were of enormous influence. In 1587 he published in Paris an edition of Peter Martyr’s ‘Decades’ produced to elicit interest in English exploration in the competitive age of discovery. Martyr’s (1457-1526) work on the Spanish conquest of America was first published in 1530 and only part of it had appeared in an English translation in 1555. This edition in Latin is the entire work, edited and annotated by Hakluyt himself and forms an important part of his encouragement to compete with the French and Spanish in the riches coming from America.
Hakluyt is best known for his monumental work entitled ‘The Principall Navigations’ first published in 1589 and later expanded. He is considered without question as the principal writer of world voyages in the English language in the late sixteenth century. Discovering much of this information was not easy however but he was fortunate to be appointed secretary and chaplain to Sir Edmund Stafford, the English Ambassador in Paris from 1583-88. He worked his way into Parisian society and published several travel related works including an account of the French presence in Florida in 1587. Hakluyt was almost certainly working to collect much of this information for Elizabeth’s famous spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham. Indeed a 1584 letter from Hakluyt to Walsingham writes of his opinion that money spent on a lecture on modern navigation, ‘wold be the best hundred pounds bestowed’.
Hakluyt had the vision to see that England was in danger of falling far behind the other nations in the race for colonies. It is interesting to note that this edition of ‘De Orbe Novo’ is dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh, an apparent promotional piece for his cause. Hakluyt and Raleigh were at Oxford together and in the same year 1587 Raleigh would support an English colonial attempt at Roanoke. Hakluyt was closely involved with this voyage and along with Thomas Hariot was one of Raleigh’s closest advisors. Hakluyt corresponded with Ralph Lane and other members on the Roanoke Colony and kept an eye out for reports of Spanish or French activity along the American coast. He would study these reports from Virginia and in 1587 “had written to Raleigh. Reaffirming that the ‘best planting will be about the bay of Chesapians” … In 1607 the English did indeed found a colony in Chesapeake Bay at Jamestown. Hakluyt is described by Trevelyan as “one of the great remembered Elizabethans, a man of vision, to become one of the chief propagandists for an English settlement in North America.” This is an extremely rare work appearing only four times at auction in the last thirty years and once in the last 15, the last time being in 2009. Provenance: with manuscript ownership name on title hard to read, blind stamp on title of Diego Barros Arana (1830-1907). Arana was an educator, diplomat and Chilean historian. He is the most important historian of Chile in the nineteenth century. Adams M-753; Church 133; Sabin 1552; Raleigh Trevelyan, Sir Walter Raleigh (2003).