Private Journal of a Voyage to Australia
By (author) James Bell
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Private Journal of a Voyage to Australia by James Bell
Book DescriptionOn 19 November 1838 James Bell, then aged 21, set out in the sailing vessel the Planter from St Katharine Docks in London to travel to Adelaide, an infant colony half a world away and not yet two years old. He left behind family, good friends and the mysterious 'C.P.', a young woman with whom he hoped one day to be reunited. The journey usually took 130 days, but due to the incompetence of the captain and the many misadventures encountered it took the Planter almost six months to reach its destination. Along the way it lost a crew, several passengers and much livestock; it gained a new crew and at least one extra passenger. The drunken brawls and licentious couplings horrified James Bell who, to while away the time, penned a detailed account of all the comings and goings for the eyes of 'C.P.' only, sternly advising her that 'it must never be read by a third party'. Sustained by his sense of adventure, his love of poetry, his faith in his Presbyterian God, his nostalgic memories of rural Scotland and particularly by his affection for 'C.P.', James Bell maintained a vivid and astute record of his historic journey. His voice travels down to us, more than a century and a half later, and reminds us of the dangers and joys of such an adventurous leap into the unknown.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781742377957
(205mm x 136mm x 19mm)
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 1-Dec-2011
Country of Publication: Australia
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Book Review: Private Journal of a Voyage to Australia by James Bell - Reviewed by Boomer (21 Nov 2011)
In 1838, when 21-year-old James Bell set sail from England on the long voyage to Australia, he began to keep a journal. Somehow, at some time in the 150 years since then, that journal made its way back to England where it was found on a stall in a London street market, auctioned by Bonhams for A$22,000 to the State Library of South Australia, and returned to Adelaide. James Bell would have been amazed to know that what began for him as the fulfillment of a promise to a friend would end up being published, especially since he had stated plainly that "it must never be read by a third party".
Tantalizing as that prohibition is, young James was a pious and rather Puritanical young man and there is nothing scandalous about his writing or his behaviour. Unfortunately, he could not say the same for his fellow passengers. "I am sure", he writes, "no person of any principles of virtue could call himself quite comfortable while his eyes and ears...
Author Biography - James Bell
James Bell's diary lay in obscurity for about 150 years and then was amazingly found on a market stall and auctioned at Bonham's, where it was acquired by the State Library of South Australia. He died a year after arrival in Adelaide, from a 'brain infection'.
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