An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East-Indies …
An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East-Indies …
An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East-Indies …

KNOX, Robert. An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East-Indies: Together, With an Account of the Detaining in Captivity the Author and divers other E….

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KNOX, Robert An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East-Indies: Together, With an Account of the Detaining in Captivity the Author and divers other Englishmen now Living there, and of the Author’s Miraculous Escape. Illustrated with Figures, and a Map of the island. By Robert Knox, a Captive there near Twenty Years London, Printed by Richard Chiswell, Printer to the Royal Society, at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1681.

Folio. Later half-calf over marbled boards, red morocco lettering-piece to spine; pp. [xxiv], 189, [publisher's catalogue], folding engraved map and 15 engraved plates; binding worn but holding firm; map with torn away portion, barely touching the coastline, old backing with blue-ish paper, initial leaf backed on blank page, title-page and a few plates with repaired tears, a little spotting here and there; still a good copy of a very rare work, complete with initial imprimatur leaf (signed by Christopher Wren in print) and final advertisement leaf; engraved armorial bookplate inside front cover.
First edition of the first account of Sri Lanka in English, which provided source material and inspiration for Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Whilst trading along the Coromandel coast Robert Knox (1641-1720) was forced to land at Kottiar Bay, Ceylon, whereupon he was held captive for the next nineteen years, eventually escaping in 1679. The Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was written on the voyage back to England, where it was published with encouragement of the East India Company and Robert Hooke of the Royal Society. 'The book influenced the work of contemporaries such as Daniel Defoe, who drew from Knox's experiences much of the context for, and the aspirations of, his hero in Robinson Crusoe ... 'a fundamental source for the economic history and anthropology of mid seventeenth-century Ceylon' (ODNB). Whilst in the service of the East India Company in 1659 Knox was forced to put in to Kottiar Bay in Ceylon due to ship damage. Failing to send a letter of explanation for his presence to the king of Kandy, Rajasinha II, or to provide him with gifts as was customary, he was taken captive. 'He was kept under house arrest and in the following years was moved around Ceylon, taking on various occupations, until he managed to escape to the Dutch fort at Aripu in 1679. Daniel Defoe drew from Knox's experiences in writing Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719' (ODNB).
ESTC R16598 '[17] leaves of plates : ill., map., ports'; ESTC R179513 records one title-page of this work, printed in 1682, which states 'Illustrated with 15 figures, and a map of the island', a collation which is conform with the present copy. - The portrait of Knox is seldom present as it was not published until several years later.

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