Richard Hakluyt the younger, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, advocated the creation of English colonies in the New World at a time when the advantages of this idea were far from self-evident. This book describes in detail the life and times of Hakluyt, a trained minister who became an editor of travel accounts. Hakluyt's Promise demonstrates his prominent role in the establishment of English America as well as his interests in English opportunities in the East Indies. The volume presents nearly 50 illustrations-many unpublished since the sixteenth century-and offers a fresh view of Hakluyt's milieu and the central concerns of the Elizabethan age. Though he never traveled farther than Paris, young Hakluyt spent much of the 1580s recording information about the western hemisphere and became an international authority on overseas exploration. The book traces his rise to prominence as a source of information and inspiration for England's policy makers, including the queen, and his advocacy for colonies in Roanoke and Jamestown.
Hakluyt's thought was shaped by debates that stretched across Europe, and his interests ranged just as widely, encompassing such topics as peaceful coexistence with Native Americans, the New World as a Protestant Holy Land, and in, his later life, trade with the Spice Islands.
Peter C. Mancall is professor of history, University of Southern California, and director of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. He lives in Los Angeles.