William Bligh (1754-1815) will forever be remembered for the mutiny on the Bounty, which took place in 1789. Shortly after leaving Tahiti, where they had been gathering breadfruits, the mutineers, led by Bligh’s second-in-command Fletcher Christian, cast their Captain and 14 loyal crewmen adrift in a small boat with only a week’s rations and a compass. Fortunately Bligh was a master navigator who had served on Cook’s third and final voyage, and he succeeded in reaching Timor, the nearest European settlement, after a 47-day, 4000 mile voyage, with only one casualty. Probably the greatest feat of seamanship in the annals of British maritime endeavour.
There is a considerable body of literature associated with Bligh, notably A Narrative of the Mutiny on board His Majesty's Ship "Bounty" (1790); A Voyage to the south Sea undertaken by command of His Majesty, for the purpose of conveying the bread-fruit tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty’s ship the Bounty (1792); The search for, and capture of some of the mutineers, as recorded in George Hamilton’s A Voyage round the World in His Majesty's Frigate Pandora (1793), a wonderful, immensely readable account of a disastrous voyage; and of course the three exceedingly rare court-martial pamphlets.
First editions. 4to (29.2 x 23 cms), x, 1-153, [ii], 246-264; iv, 88pp., engraved portrait of Bligh and 7 engraved charts, plates and plans (of which one folding and 4 double-page); folding plan frontispiece, 3 charts (2 folding). Together bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, neatly rebacked.£25,000