Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
A Voyage to Virginia in 1609

A Voyage to Virginia in 1609: Two Narratives: Strachey's "True Reportory" and Jourdain's Discovery of the Bermudas

EDITED BY Louis B. Wright
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 2
Pages: 144
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Voyage to Virginia in 1609
    Book Description:

    To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, the University of Virginia Press reissues its first-ever publication. The volume's two accounts of the 1609 wreck of a Jamestown-bound ship offer a gripping sea adventure from the earliest days of American colonization, but the dramatic events' even greater claim to fame is for serving as the inspiration for William Shakespeare's last major work,The Tempest.

    William Strachey was one of six hundred passengers sailing to Jamestown as part of the largest expedition yet to Virginia. A mere week from their destination, the fleet's flagship, Sea Venture, met a tropical storm and wrecked on one of the islands of Bermuda. Strachey's story might have ended there, but the castaways survived on the tropical island for eleven months and-in an act of almost incomprehensible resourcefulness-used local cedarwood, along with the wreckage of their own ship, to construct two seaworthy boats and continue successfully on their voyage.

    Strachey's frankness about his fellow travelers, mutinies on the island, and the wretched condition in which they finally found Jamestown kept his document from being officially published initially, but it circulated privately in London, where one of its early readers was William Shakespeare. The second narrative in this volume, by Strachey's shipmate Silvester Jourdain, covers the same episode but includes many fascinating details that Strachey's does not, including some that made their way intoThe Tempest.

    Presented with modern spelling and punctuation, this great maritime drama and unforgettable firsthand look at the profound struggle to colonize America offers today's reader the raw material that inspired Shakespeare's masterpiece.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3469-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Alden T Vaughan

    This book’s two narratives, both written in 1610 but the longer one not published until 1625, describe theSea Venture’s battering by a hurricane in the summer of 1609, its eventual crash near the Bermuda Islands, and the arrival in Virginia ten months later of nearly all the original passengers and crew. Until then, English observers at home and abroad assumed that the flagship of the nine vessels carrying relief supplies and new colonists to the fragile English foothold in Virginia had been lost at sea—the worst disaster in England’s overseas expansion. In September 1610 the first of the...

    (pp. xv-xvi)
    L. B. W
    (pp. xvii-xxviii)

    When William Shakespeare sat down to writeThe Tempesthe had fresh in his memory a vivid description of a hurricane and shipwreck from the pen of a passenger on the ill-fated ship, the “Sea Venture”¹ that foundered, en route to Virginia, in a tropical storm off the Bermuda Islands on July 28, 1609. The author was William Strachey, a gentleman-adventurer, one of a company of more than 600 colonists bound for Jamestown, who set out from Plymouth, England, on June 2, 1609, in seven ships and two pinnaces. The flagship of the fleet was the “Sea Venture” commanded by Captain...

  6. A True Reportory of the Wreck and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight, upon and from the Islands of the Bermudas
    (pp. 1-102)
    William Strachey

    EXCELLENT LADY, Know that upon Friday late in the evening we brake ground out of the sound of Plymouth, our whole fleet then consisting of seven good ships and two pinnaces, all which from the said second of June unto the twenty-third of July kept in friendly consort together, not a whole watch at any time losing the sight each of other. Our course, when we came about the height of between 26 and 27 degrees, we declined to the northward and, according to our governor’s instructions, altered the trade and ordinary way used heretofore by Dominica and Nevis in...

  7. A Discovery of the Bermudas, Otherwise Called the Isle of Devils
    (pp. 103-116)
    Silvester Jourdain

    BEING in [a] ship called the “Sea Venture,” with Sir Thomas Gates our governor, Sir George Somers, and Captain Newport, three most worthy, honored gentlemen (whose valor and fortitude the world must needs take notice of, and that in most honorable designs) bound for Virginia, in the height of 30 degrees of northerly latitude or thereabouts we were taken with a most sharp and cruel storm upon the five-and-twentieth day of July, anno 1609, which did not only separate us from the residue of our fleet (which were eight in number), but with the violent working of the seas our ship became...