'a best-seller overnight'
BRASSEY, Anna ['Annie'], Lady BRASSEY. A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months. London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1880.
8vo. Original brown pictorial cloth, all edges gilt; pp. xix, 492; wood-engraved frontispiece, title-vignette, illustrations in the text by G. Pearson after A.Y. Bingham, large folding colour-printed lithographic map by Edward Weller; head odf spine a little scuffed, apart from light spotting to endpapers and map (as usual), a very good copy.
Presentation copy, signed by Annie Brassie, and dated 1881, on half-title. New edition. Encouraged by the success of her travel books The Flight of the "Meteor" ([s.l.: 1866) and A Cruise in "Eothen" (London: 1873), Baroness Brassey (1839-1887) and her husband Thomas, Baron Brassey (1836-1918), decided to undertake a circumnavigation in the Sunbeam, their 531-ton, three-masted, topsail schooner, with a 350-horsepower steam engine, which had been launched in 1874. The Sunbeam embarked on 1 July 1876 with a complement of forty-four comprising the Brasseys and their children, a small party of friends, a professional crew, and a complete domestic staff. Their voyage took them 'across the south Atlantic, through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean, continuing by way of Tahiti, Hawaii, and Japan to Penang and thence to Ceylon, Aden, and the Red Sea. While the Sunbeam passed through the Suez Canal, Annie Brassey and the children went overland to Cairo to visit the pyramids, rejoining the party at Alexandria. Their arrival at Hastings on 27 May 1877 completed the eleven-month voyage. It had been a complete success, uneventful except for a dangerous flooding of the decks in a high sea off Ushant and their rescue of the crew of a ship on fire near Rio. The monotony of the days at sea was varied by excursions ashore, planned and led by Annie Brassey to the colourful street markets of Rio, Valparaíso, and Singapore, and to scenes of natural beauty in Tahiti, Ceylon, and Hawaii with its thrilling volcanoes. The voyage was to make Annie Brassey a celebrity not because she had been round the world in a luxury yacht, but because she struck exactly the right note in her book about the adventure, using the entries in her journal to describe rambles ashore and daily life afloat: this was lively enough with five children under fourteen, a dog, three birds, and a kitten aboard. A Voyage in the "Sunbeam" (1878) was a solid work of 508 pages with maps and wood-engravings. It was a best-seller overnight, reached its nineteenth edition in 1896, and was translated into French, German, Italian, Swedish, and Hungarian [...] The cruises of the Sunbeam may have resembled family picnics rather than voyages of discovery, but Annie Brassey, who inspired and organized them, is not to be denied the status of a true traveller. A poor sailor, never really well at sea, she dared all it could do to her, in order that she might visit the farthest corners of the earth. As her husband wrote, "the voyage would not have been undertaken and assuredly it would never have been completed without the impulse derived from her perseverance and determination"' (ODNB). The Preface to the New Edition states that 'the letterpress has only been slightly curtailed and a copious selection has been made from the original series of illustrations' (p. vii), and the Appendix on pp. -492 contains a summary of the entire voyage, compiled from the log-book.
Cf. Theakstone p. 32 (1st ed.).