Richard Hakluyt (c.1552-1616)

Biographical note

Collector of voyages, belonged to a good Herefordshire family of Dutch descent, was born either at Eyton in that county or in London, and educated at Westminster School and Oxford The sight of a map of the world fired his imagination and implanted in his mind the interest in geography and the lives and adventures of our great navigators and discoverers, which became the ruling passion of his life; and in order to increase his knowledge of these matters he studied various foreign languages and the art of navigation. He took orders, and was chaplain of the English Embassy in Paris, Rector of Witheringsett, Suffolk, 1590, Archdeacon of Westminster, 1602, and Rector of Gedney, Lincolnshire, 1612. After a first collection of voyages to America and the West Indies he compiled, while at Paris, his great work, The Principal Navigations, Voyages . . . and Discoveries of the English Nation made by Sea or over Land to the Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth . . . within the Compass of these 1500 Years. It appeared in its final form (three folio vols.) in 1599. Besides it he published A Discourse of Western Planting, and he left a vast mass of MS. afterwards used (in far inferior style) by S. Purchas. In all his work H. was actuated not only by the love of knowledge, but by a noble patriotism: he wished to see England the great sea-power of the world, and he lived to see it so. His work, as has been said, is “our English epic.” In addition to his original writings he translated various works, among them being The Discoveries of the World, from the Portuguese of Antonio Galvano.

[From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John W. Cousin, 1910]


Hakluyt included within the Principal Navigations a number of works in sufficient completeness that they may stand alone. These have been extracted and formatted as separate works:

See also:

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