Autograph letter signed. Nov 24 1820.

PARRY William Edward. 1790 - 1855. Arctic explorer (1820.)


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Single leaf, recto only. Manuscript in ink. Slightly soiled and chipped at edges. 3 Downing St [London], Friday Nov 24,

A brief but interesting letter written immediately after Sir William Parry's return from his first Arctic expedition in search of the northwest passage. Though the recipient of the letter is unnamed, it is almost certainly Parry's publisher at John Murray, and the content indicates how swiftly operations were underway to begin printing the official narrative of the expedition. It reads in part: 

"I shall be ready to commence printing on Monday. Let me know if I may employ Clowes.

The Hecla has only just arrived in the River, and I have written to Mr. Beechey to come up to us as soon as possible, about the drawings. "


The references within the letter are to printer William Clowes of Northumberland-court who was indeed employed to set and print the text, and Liet Frederick William Beechey, who provided many of the illustrations from which the lithographed plates were prepared. The book in question would be Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; performed in the years 1819–20 in his majesty's ships Hecla and Griper and was the first of Parry's arctic narratives to be published by John Murray. 

Setting off in early 1819, the expedition journeyed up the west side of Baffin Bay and through Lancaster Sound, although were halted here at Melville Island by pack ice. Wintering over here, the attempts to continue west the following season were thwarted by inclement weather, and both Hecla and Griper arrived back in the Thames mid-November 1820, mere days before this letter was written. 

Stock Code: 225839

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