Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 20, Number 4, December 1998.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
Traveling to the colonies in 1742 at age twenty-three, young Edward Kimber embarked on what was no doubt the adventure of his life. Son of Isaac Kimber, editor of the London Magazine from 1732 to 1755, Edward had grown up around the publishing industry and was keenly aware of the public appetite for reading material. Like nearly all literate travelers of his day, but perhaps more aware than many that his travels in the colonies would furnish material for later publication, Kimber dutifully kept a journal record of his observations and experiences. His American adventure yielded literary fruit from 1743 until 1746 in both prose and poetry, and two of his later novels incorporated American motifs and references.
Itinerant Observations in America was the longest and most important product of Kimber's American experiences. Kevin J. Hayes's edition of this work provides the complete text of the Observations as it appeared in the London Magazine and publishes fourteen poems written by Kimber while in America that appeared in the London Magazine from 1743 through 1744. Hayes reprints Kimber's editorial notes and provides additional and extensive annotations of historical, geographical, and literary references in the text. In his introduction, Hayes discusses the biographical and historical context for Kimber's work, analyzes Kimber's composition and revision of the Observations, attributes five works to Kimber not previously assigned to him, traces Kimber's recognition and literary reputation, and offers a brief assessment of the literary merits of the Observations.