Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Date of this Version
This is an online electronic text edition of the first book published by an English colonist in America. Its author, Thomas Hariot or Harriot, was a cartographer, mathematician, astronomer, linguist, and philosopher, who was a participant in Sir Walter Ralegh’s first attempt to establish a colony in “Virginia,” on Roanoke Island in modern-day North Carolina, from June 1585 until June 1586. Hariot had learned the rudiments of the Algonkian language from two natives brought back to England from an earlier exploratory voyage, and he served as interpreter and liaison with the native peoples of the surrounding region. His Brief and True Report focuses largely upon the native inhabitants, giving much valuable information on their food sources, agricultural methods, living arrangements, political organization, and religion. Published in 1588, with Ralegh’s support, to help incite both investment and settlement, Hariot’s 13,000-word account also gives many details of the “merchantable commodities,” plants, animals, and economic opportunities to be found there. Written by an ethnographer and natural scientist who was an integral part of the first English attempt at American colonization, the Brief and True Report is by far the most important early English account of North America.
This online edition contains some essential annotations, a textual note, and links to other important online materials relating to the Roanoke colony.