the first monograph in book form on saint helena
[DUNCAN, Francis]. A Description of the Island of St. Helena; Containing Observations On Its Singular Structure and Formation and an Account of Its Climate, Natural History, and Inhabitants. London, R. Phillips, 1805.
Small 8vo. Recent half-calf over marbled boards, spine with raised bands and with gilt-stamped lettering-piece; pp. xxiv, 239, two engraved folding plates on stiff paper (one bound as frontispiece); first folding plate with minor restorations, one leaf with marginal flaw, not affecting text, a few wormholes; a little toning or spotting.
Very rare first edition of the first and anonymous monograph on the South Atlantic Island, attributed to Francis Duncan, M. D., by Philip Gosse in his St. Helena, 1502-1938 (p. 434). He lists two earlier works on the island, a 1673 German 8-page pamphlet on the Dutch taking possession, and an imaginary Voyage to the Moon from St. Helena by Flight of Geese of 1801. The British Critic, Volume 26, of 1805 confirms this first, in reviewing the book. 'There is no separate account of this extraordinary island, so important and so interesting to navigators to and from the East, this will be to many a very acceptable manual' (p. 575f). 'The first book solely about St Helena, A Description of the Island of St. Helena … (1805), was published anonymously by surgeon Francis Duncan' (Benson, Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, not paginated section).