American Literature John Smith
by
William Boelhower
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0065

Introduction

Captain John Smith (b. 1580–d. 1631) won honors and experience as a volunteer soldier on the continent before joining the first group of Virginia colonists who founded James Fort in 1607. If this colony survived to become England’s first permanent settlement in the Americas, it was largely due to the initiative, cunning, and military discipline of Smith, who became president of the colony, its major author, and a legendary figure of early modern letters. Although his achievements as “cape merchant” (trader) at James Fort and diplomatic liaison between Powhatan and the colony are universally acknowledged, his self-fashioned and contested reputation is due in large part to his own writings and rewritings, beginning with the autobiographical letter A True Relation (1608), written in Jamestown, and followed by later works such as Map of Virginia (1612), New England’s Trials (1620), the ambitious magnum opus The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624), and the comprehensive autobiographical True Travels published a year before his death in 1631. Smith filled many roles and played many parts in his enterprising lifetime: soldier of fortune, slave, world traveler, sailor, adventurer, president of the Jamestown colony, diplomat to the Algonquian tribes in Tidewater Virginia, historian, geographer/cartographer, ethnographer, linguist, promoter of colonization to New England, compiler, and autobiographer. Such a rich and complex life has led scholars and critics to portray him in contradictory ways: epic hero versus romantic failure, exemplary Elizabethan versus prototypical American, or soldier and man of action versus thinker and fabulator.

General Overviews

Smith is a complex and contested figure, and his deeds and writings have stimulated a steady flow of commentary from historians, literary critics, cultural studies scholars, filmmakers, poets, and novelists. His observations concerning the Chesapeake Tidewater Indians are unanimously considered invaluable, and his maps of Virginia and New England are crucial documents for historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, and geographers. In addition, he has been used as a political football by Northern historians (Brown 1890) to denigrate a set of values that Southern historians and writers attributed to him as a cultural exemplar. The contributions in this section appropriately suggest the comprehensive range of commentary that Smith has generated in multiple disciplinary areas. Kupperman 2000 discusses such topics as Indian politics, religion, village life, gender roles, clothing, nudity, body marks, hair dressing, cooperative agriculture, housing, and food preparation. Whereas Morse 1935 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies) covers the salient moments of Smith’s career, Striker and Smith 1962 provides important new research on Smith’s early experiences as a soldier in southeastern Europe.

  • Brown, Alexander, ed. The Genesis of the United States. 2 vols. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1890.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In his important documentary anthology, Brown considers Smith’s writings—especially Generall Historie and True Travels—unreliable, fallacious, and self-indulgent. He singles out the Pocahontas episode and Smith’s adventures in Hungary and Turkey, respectively. A totally negative appreciation. See, in particular, Volume 2, pp. 784–778 and pp. 1006–1010.

    Find this resource:

    • Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Relying on early firsthand reports from the Virginia and New England colonists and John White’s Virginia drawings, the author reviews and compares English perceptions of Native American life and beliefs. Smith scholars are given a chance to appreciate the similarities and differences of perception among a number of eyewitness texts. This is ethno-history at its best.

      Find this resource:

      • Striker, Laura Polanyi, and Bradford Smith. “The Rehabilitation of Captain John Smith.” Journal of Southern History 28.4 (November 1962): 474–481.

        DOI: 10.2307/2205411Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        After the Civil War, among a number of Northern historians (for example, Henry Adams and John Gorham Palfrey) Smith became a symbol of the Southern code of honor and was used as a conduit to attack the South itself. The authors review Smith’s soldiering experiences in southeastern Europe, pointing out that the primary sources in England and Hungary confirm his account.

        Find this resource:

        Primary Texts

        Only two Collected Works of Smith have been available since the late 1880s: Smith 1884 (edited by Arber; Arber and Bradley 1910, a later edition, includes an introduction and bibliography) and Barbour 1986. Barbour builds on Arber’s work but reflects the objectivity and punctiliousness of modern scholarship, and his work is more inclusive and perhaps definitive. Selected Works that offer a variety of his work include Kupperman 1988 and Lankford 1967 (both cited under Selected Works), which provide competent introductions to their selections that are useful for not only college students but also the general reader. Of historical interest, the Smith 1819 edition (cited under Selected Works) helped to keep Smith’s work in circulation in the 19th century. In Smith 1866 (cited under Selected Works), Deane edited Smith’s history of Virginia but is famous for questioning Smith’s veracity.

        Collected Works

        For many decades Smith 1884 (and Arber and Bradley 1910) provided scholars with their sense of Smith’s writings. In his introduction, Arber provides new critical and biographical information on Smith and ranks him among the great Elizabethans. Arber also includes Smith’s last will and testament in his work. Now, with Barbour 1986, scholars have what is evidently the author’s definitive complete works, although Barbour does not include the important Smith-Zúñiga map of 1608. Contemporary scholars will want to consult this authoritative edition, including as it does extensive notes to the texts and bibliographies for each.

        • Arber, Edward, and Arthur Granville Bradley, eds. The Travels and Works of Captain John Smith. 2 vols. Edinburgh: John Grant, 1910.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This edition replicates Smith 1884 but includes a new introduction and a brief introductory bibliography by Bradley.

          Find this resource:

          • Barbour, Philip L., ed. The Complete Works of Captain John Smith. 3 vols. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            The best edition of Smith’s work available. Barbour’s painstaking scholarship fills in the lacunae of Arber’s edition and adds valuable commentary: a biographical directory; a brief biography of Smith; introductions and notes for each work; recension of the narratives of Smith’s captivity; chronology of events in Virginia, 1608–1612; bibliography for each work; and glosses on Smith’s geographical explorations and sites of Algonquian villages and river names. Barbour provides a facsimile reproduction of the original 1608 printed edition of A True Relation; the illustrations include all of the visual materials produced by Smith and his collaborators.

            Find this resource:

            • Smith, John. Works, 1608–1631. Edited by Edward Arber. English Scholar’s Library 16. Westminster, UK: Archibald Constable, 1884.

              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              The major editor of Smith’s works before Barbour 1986, with several reprint editions. In his important introduction, Arber calls Smith a great Englishman. Some works by Smith are missing, which Barbour 1986 includes.

              Find this resource:

              Selected Works

              Kupperman 1988 is the best selection of works available as of the early 21st century; it provides insightful running commentary and bibliography to accompany the texts. Lankford 1967 offers less material, but Lankford’s introduction and representative selections make this anthology ideal for undergraduates and the general reader. The two-volume edition of Smith 1819 is an important early work in Smith studies. In Smith 1866, Deane writes of his appreciation of Smith’s A True Relation of Virginia only to note that the author is unreliable.

              Reference Works and Bibliographies

              Since the 1980s a great deal has been done by a few dedicated scholars to provide a relatively complete and up-to-date bibliography of Smith’s works and commentary on them. Barbour’s lifelong dedication to Smith is unsurpassed; for his bibliography to The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, see Barbour 1986 (cited under Collected Works). More recently, Hayes 1991 is the most complete bibliographical survey of Smith available, building on and updating Eames 1927. Morse 1935 surveys early historical works on Smith, whereas Collier 1866 tracks down a rare signed version of Smith’s Description of New England.

              • Collier, John Payne. A Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books in the English Language. Vol. 4. New York: David G. Francis, 1866.

                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Collier provides information on a copy of Smith’s Description of New England presented to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere; he also discusses a copy of this work bearing Smith’s name. See pp. 59–60, 207–208.

                Find this resource:

                • Eames, Wilberforce. A Bibliography of Captain John Smith. New York, 1927.

                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Eames cites and describes the extant editions of the works of Smith and where they are located. Reprinted from Sabin’s A Dictionary of Books Related to America (New York: Joseph Sabin, 1868).

                  Find this resource:

                  • Hayes, Kevin J. Captain John Smith: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991.

                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Hayes’s guide to secondary sources aims to trace the critical heritage of Smith’s written works; it does not include writings by his contemporaries in Virginia but does include the work of Samuel Purchas. This is an essential reference work on Smith.

                    Find this resource:

                    • Morse, Jarvis M. “John Smith and His Critics: A Chapter in Colonial Historiography.” Journal of Southern History 1.2 (1935): 123–137.

                      DOI: 10.2307/2191722Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Morse’s annotated review of critical commentary on Smith deals prominently with Smith’s captivity and rescue by Pocahontas, his status as knight-errant in southeastern Europe, and his important work on the founding of Plymouth Plantation in New England. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                      Find this resource:

                      Biography

                      Smith’s writings range from history to biography; today we would consider him a participant-observer writing history as he experienced it.

                      20th-Century Biographies

                      Smith has always been a very popular subject for biographers; the most significant are included here but by no means complete the list. Although Smith 1953 is the first seriously researched biography, Barbour 1964 remains the standard account. However, each generation has found its own reasons for retelling Smith’s life according to the needs of the day. Wharton 1957 (originally published in 1685) has been revived by Striker to help document and confirm Smith’s historical truthfulness. Reflecting a different cultural climate, Vaughan 1975 and LeMay 1991 both position Smith as a founder of the American nation and are equally sensitive to the truth claims of Smith as historian, although LeMay’s defense often reads like a panegyric. Hoobler and Hoobler 2006 offers a more nuanced understanding of Smith as historian and is very good on his early years.

                      • Barbour, Philip L. The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964.

                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Barbour, the foremost Smith scholar to date, sees his subject as a romantic failure, a victim of the English class system. In this authoritative biography, he tries to see Smith whole and objectively, beyond the controversies that mark him as a fabulator and egomaniac. Barbour provides new information on three areas of Smith’s activities: the English colonial, the central and east European, and that of the Indian tribes of the Chesapeake Tidewater area. Indispensable.

                        Find this resource:

                        • Firstbrook, Peter. A Man Most Driven: Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the Founding of America. London: Oneworld, 2014.

                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          A key actor in the founding period of Jamestown, Smith wrote himself into the colony’s history as its savior, disciplinarian, and chief negotiator with the native inhabitants. In the process, not only did that history become inextricably woven with myth and legend, but Smith himself emerges as an outsized figure whose presence shines through all of our attempts to discover the hard facts. Firstbrook’s highly readable biography captures a fully rounded Smith whose complicated personality makes him all too human. Smith was undoubtedly a leader and adventurer—as well as knight-errant and mercenary sailor—but he was also both deeply marked and oddly empowered by his common origins. Quarrelsome, fearless, ambitious, roguish, and self-promoting, this unlikely member of Jamestown’s ruling council gathers up into his biography all the important historical issues of the colony. Given the shifting truths of Smith’s own multiple narratives, his biographers have always been challenged to come up with a cohesive and credible narrative of the founding of Jamestown and the Cape Merchant’s own role in it. Imbued in the primary sources, Firstbrook’s portrait gives us a fully rounded Smith.

                          Find this resource:

                          • Hoobler, Dorothy, and Thomas Hoobler. Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            The authors deal at length with Smith’s early life before portraying the grim picture of the early Virginia colonists’ struggle to survive. After 1609, Smith spent most of his life trying to return to North America. The Hooblers quibble with Barbour’s claim that Smith never lied in his writings; they state that he often contradicts himself from version to version of his account of the Jamestown colony.

                            Find this resource:

                            • LeMay, Joseph A. The American Dream of Captain John Smith. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1991.

                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              A full-length study of Smith’s character, idealism, and truthfulness. LeMay makes little attempt to distinguish between Smith and his writings, or between Smith and the history of the early years of the Virginia colony (see Fuller 1995, p. 104; cited under Smith as Autobiographer and Writer). LeMay claims Smith for American history, projecting him into the nation’s future as a prototype.

                              Find this resource:

                              • Smith, Bradford. Captain John Smith: His Life & Legend. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1953.

                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                An authoritative defense of Smith’s life and his essential truthfulness. The first seriously researched and groundbreaking biography of Smith, with an appendix on his Hungarian adventures by Laura Polanyi Striker, helps greatly to clarify Smith’s early adventures on the continent.

                                Find this resource:

                                • Vaughan, Alden T. American Genesis: Captain John Smith and the Founding of Virginia. Edited by Oscar Handlin. Boston: Little, Brown, 1975.

                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Besides providing a synthetic picture of the economic, political, and social contexts of the first years of the colony, in his concluding chapter Vaughan discusses Smith as a writer and historian.

                                  Find this resource:

                                  • Wharton, Henry. The Life of John Smith, English Soldier. Edited and translated by Laura Polanyi Striker. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957.

                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Originally published in 1685. The purpose of Wharton’s brief narrative was to establish the truth of Smith’s historical role and stature. He evidently saw Smith as a hero.

                                    Find this resource:

                                    18th- and 19-Century Biographies

                                    Belknap 1794 is the foundational biographical essay on Smith from the national period and is frequently cited by later scholars. Early biographers, in works such as Hillard 1834 and Simms 1846, rely heavily on Smith’s own writings, but they wholeheartedly depict a heroic, legendary figure who is often larger than life, as does Warner 1881.

                                    • Belknap, Jeremy. “Captain John Smith.” In American Biography. Vol. 1. Edited by Jeremy Belknap, 240–319. Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1794.

                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Belknap’s lengthy and influential essay covers Smith’s early life on the Continent as well as his dominant role in the establishment of the Virginia colony. The view is sympathetic and generous; Smith appears as a fearless adventurer and the author of important historical works.

                                      Find this resource:

                                      • Hillard, George. “The Life and Adventures of Captain John Smith.” In The Library of American Biography. Vol. 2. Edited by Jared Sparks, 171–407. Boston: Hillard, Gray, 1834.

                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Hillard’s “Life” is a work of compilation and synthesis based primarily on Smith’s own writings but also on Belknap 1794, Stith 1747 (cited under 18th- and 19th-Century Histories), Wharton 1957 (cited under 20th-Century Biographies), and others. Later, Simms would rely heavily on Hillard in the writing of his own biographical romance of Smith (Simms 1846).

                                        Find this resource:

                                        • Simms, William Gilmore. The Life of Capt. John Smith: The Founder of Virginia. New York: G. F. Cooledge, 1846.

                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          Simms’s biography, based in large part on Smith’s own True Travels and on Hillard 1834, gives a full portrait of Smith in the chivalrous mode, an exemplary product of an American hero of its time and place. Simms’s admiration for Smith imbues his embroidered prose with the colors of romance. The anonymous illustrations picture Smith’s adventures.

                                          Find this resource:

                                          • Warner, Charles Dudley. Captain John Smith (1579–1631) Sometime Governor of Virginia, and Admiral of New England: A Study of His Life and Writings. New York: Holt, 1881.

                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Meant at first to be a humorous take on the romantic version of Smith’s life and character, the author is often moved to admire him. In particular, Warner appreciates Smith’s wit and humor (for example, the cannibal incident in The Generall Historie). The reader is treated to a popular 19th-century author’s conversion experience.

                                            Find this resource:

                                            Databases

                                            The websites Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Rediscovery, and Virtual Jamestown offer important scholarship greatly enhanced by multimedia visual materials, archaeological information, and postings of recent activities and Smith-related events. Colonial Williamsburg stresses not only digital research but also teaching and learning resources. Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail offers a synthetic introduction to Smith and related themes and can be helpful to college students.

                                            Smith and Other Jamestown Narratives

                                            Most of the volumes listed in this section could be considered “selected works” if it were not for the added fact that Smith is now advantageously tucked in with his Jamestown contemporaries. Barbour 1969 remains a major Jamestown resource, but this is now surpassed by Horn 2007, which is handsomely illustrated with John White’s drawings and map. Wright 1965; Quinn, et al. 1979; and Haile 1998 all present major selections from Smith’s work along with other important documents of the period. Haile 1998 and Quinn, et al. 1979 also have excellent introductions, although Quinn, et al. 1979 is the more authoritative.

                                            • Barbour, Philip L., ed. The Jamestown Voyages under the First Charter, 1606–1609. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Hakluyt Society, 1969.

                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Barbour includes the first two works by Smith: A True Relation (1608) and A Map of Virginia (1612). He also adds all the ambassadorial missives of Pedro de Zúñiga to Philip III of Spain, one of them including the important Smith sketch map of Tidewater Virginia. Barbour also includes other important illustrations and maps, including Smith’s map of 1612.

                                              Find this resource:

                                              • Haile, Edward Wright, ed. Jamestown Narratives: Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony. Champlain, VA: Round House, 1998.

                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                The narratives in Haile cover the first decade at Jamestown (1607–1617) and include Smith’s A True Relation, a selection from A Map of Virginia, and Book 3 and parts of Book 4 of The Generall Historie. In his introductions, Haile explains the relation of these narratives to those of other eyewitnesses and to other works either by Smith or edited by him. He also discusses such additional information as the charters, the contributions of Samuel Purchas, and Virginia’s Indian contributions to English. Includes twenty-one portraits and illustrations and eleven maps.

                                                Find this resource:

                                                • Horn, James P. P., ed. Captain John Smith: Writings with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America. New York: Library of America, 2007.

                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  The special attraction of Horn’s volume is that it includes not only the seven major works by Smith but also sixteen other narratives dealing with the establishment of the Virginia colony. Horn also adds maps, chronology, biographical notes, colored images of the Chesapeake Indians by John White, and notes on the plates from Theodor De Bry’s publication of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590).

                                                  Find this resource:

                                                  • Quinn, David Beers, Alison M. Quinn, and Susan Hillier, eds. New American World: A Documentary History of North America to 1612. 5 vols. New York: Arno, 1979.

                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    An oft-cited and helpful documentary resource, with Smith and his contemporaries generously represented. No longer readily available.

                                                    Find this resource:

                                                    • Wright, Louis B., ed. The Elizabethans’ America: A Collection of Early Reports by Englishmen on the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965.

                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Wright gives significant space to Smith by including four selections from his works.

                                                      Find this resource:

                                                      Smith in History

                                                      No history of English colonization in North America can ignore the crucial presence of John Smith in the settlement of both Virginia and New England. Nevertheless, each historian and each century finds something new to say about his various roles.

                                                      20th-Century Histories

                                                      Horn 2005 and Kupperman 2007 represent the best in current Smith scholarship, now informed by ethno-historical and Native American studies perspectives. Woolley 2007 is an English historian’s epic narrative of early Jamestown, richly documented with sources from English archives. Price 2003 dwells exclusively on the encounters between Smith and Pocahontas and concludes by scanning Smith’s American reputation over the centuries. Vaughan 1973 is important for a close scrutiny of the various revisions that Smith made to his history of the English colonies. Both Morse 1935 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies) and Striker 1958 continue to defend Smith’s credibility as a historian.

                                                      • Horn, James P. A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Chapters 2, 3, and 4 feature Smith’s role in the early Virginia colony. Horn quotes abundantly from Smith’s writings and relies on recent scholarship when revisiting the perennially controversial story of his rescue by Pocahontas.

                                                        Find this resource:

                                                        • Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Relying on the most recent ethno-historical and archaeological scholarship, the author offers an in-depth and yet synthetic history of the Virginia colony. Smith receives due attention, both as author and as an eyewitness. His Generall Historie is the first book to narrate the entire record of English colonization in America.

                                                          Find this resource:

                                                          • Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation. New York: Knopf, 2003.

                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            A well-researched, jaunty history with a special focus on Smith and Pocahontas (who saved Smith’s life three times). The final chapter is a reminder of Smith-the-writer’s vision for America and that the founding generation of the United States—Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Belknap, John Marshall, George Bancroft, and Noah Webster—saw in Smith the virtues of a distinctly American hero.

                                                            Find this resource:

                                                            • Striker, Laura Polanyi. “The Hungarian Historian, Lewis L. Kropf, on Captain John Smith’s True Travels: A Reappraisal.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 66 (1958): 22–43.

                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              A detailed examination of the inaccuracies in Kropf’s interpretation of the sources. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                              Find this resource:

                                                              • Vaughan, Alden T. “The Evolution of Virginia History: Early Historians of the First Colony.” In Perspectives on Early American History: Essays in Honor of Richard B. Morris. Edited by Alden T. Vaughan and George Athan Billias, 9–39. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                The author discusses the revisions Smith made to improve The Generall Historie, which already in Smith’s day was considered an epic of England’s efforts to conquer a vast part of North America. He also provides an inventory of the uniquely American themes in Smith’s work.

                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                • Woolley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.

                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  As the title suggests, the author has an epic narrative in mind: from a “morsel of colonial ambition” (p. xvii) to the foundations of the British Empire, although the close-up focus is on those dramatic first years. Well written, vast (more than four hundred pages), and with a host of primary sources from British archives (the author is English).

                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                  18th- and 19th-Century Histories

                                                                  Colonial and early national histories of Virginia such as Stith 1747, Beverely 1947, and Burk 1804 often begin with information culled from Smith, who is considered a major player in the establishment of Jamestown. As Jefferson 1787 confirms, Smith’s writings were considered foundational and Smith himself a prototypical American. This enthusiasm also infects Campbell 1847 and Paulding 1817. The author of Paulding 1817 lifts his narrative directly from Smith.

                                                                  • Beverely, Robert. The History and Present State of Virginia. Edited by Louis B. Wright. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1947.

                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Originally published in 1705. Beverely focuses primarily on Smith’s skill in keeping the Jamestown colony alive—his application of military discipline, his forays to gather and trade for corn, and his insistence on planting and foraging. An important early source.

                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                    • Burk, John. The History of Virginia: From Its First Settlement to the Present Day. Vol. 1. Petersburg, VA: Dickson & Pescud, 1804.

                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Burk gives a brief overview of previous histories of Virginia and makes heavy use of Smith’s Generall Historie, which has an epic scope, like Ossian, and is a foundational text for all subsequent histories of the state.

                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                      • Campbell, Charles. Introduction to the History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia. Richmond, VA: B. B. Minor, 1847.

                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The author devotes four chapters to Smith’s life and deeds: his soldiering on the continent, his Indian captivity, his work as explorer and president of the Virginia colony, his writings, and his heroic stature. See pp. 9–40.

                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                        • Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. London: John Stockdale, 1787.

                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Although Jefferson cringes at Smith’s frontier manner, in Query XXIII, “Histories, Memorials, and State-Papers,” he acknowledges him as a cofounder and historian of the Virginia colony. Smith was practical, straightforward, and trusted in experience. Such is the stuff of an exemplary American.

                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                          • Paulding, James Kirke. Letters from the South: Written during an Excursion in the Summer of 1816. Vol. 1. New York: James Eastburn, 1817.

                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            “Letter II” is devoted to Smith and is culled largely from The Generall Historie. See pp. 11–19.

                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                            • Stith, William. The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia. Williamsburg, VA: William Parks, 1747.

                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Relying mainly on the Generall Historie, Stith considers Smith’s account of Virginia generally accurate, although often colored by his point of view.

                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                              17th-Century Histories

                                                                              Smith’s importance to Purchas 1613 and Purchas 1625 is an important link in fully appreciating the latter’s efforts to continue the imperial project of the two Richard Hakluyts. Fuller 1662 is a major source for all those who are skeptical of Smith’s narrative motives.

                                                                              • Fuller, Thomas. The Historie of the Worthies of England. London: Thomas Williams, 1662.

                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Fuller states that Smith’s account of his adventures on the Continent and in Virginia is unbelievable. Later critics of Smith will draw on Fuller to bolster their own efforts to discredit him.

                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                • Purchas, Samuel. Purchas His Pilgrimage. London: Fetherstone, 1613.

                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Purchas acknowledges his debt to Smith’s writings and gives him due credit for his central role in the founding and settling of the Virginia colony. See pp. 631–641.

                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                  • Purchas, Samuel. Purchas His Pilgrimes. 4 vols. London: Fetherstone, 1625.

                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Purchas relies heavily on Smith’s writings, especially The Generall Historie in the final volume. Of particular note are Volume 2, pp. 1361–1370, and Volume 4, pp. 1691–1733.

                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                    Criticism of Individual Works

                                                                                    Of Smith’s works, A True Relation and Generall Historie have received the most critical attention—the first for its dramatic immediacy and autobiographical perspective of the early years of the Jamestown settlement and the second for its comprehensive scope covering British involvement in the Americas. In recent decades, with the Barbour 1986 (cited under Collected Works) edition of The Complete Works, scholars from various fields have begun to appreciate some of the lesser works, such as those on navigation. The visual materials accompanying Smith’s works—engravings and maps—have also begun to receive due attention. Because most of Smith’s works are discussed for thematic reasons and rarely as texts in themselves, they will be covered in the section Thematic Criticism.

                                                                                    A True Relation

                                                                                    This autobiographical letter, published in 1608, is one of the first reports on the dramatic conditions of the early years of the Jamestown settlement and has, therefore, received considerable attention among historians, ethnographers, geographers, and literary critics (Boelhower 2003 and Seelye 1977). The writing style is immediate, unpolished, and fittingly dramatic, with Smith almost always at the center of things, as noted in Spengemann 1994. This work and The Generall Historie are considered Smith’s two major works. For an important edition of A True Relation, see Smith 1866 (cited here and under Selected Works). See also Barbour 1986 (cited under Collected Works), specifically pp. 5–8, 116–117, the “Introduction,” and the “Bibliographical Note.”

                                                                                    • Boelhower, William. “Mapping the Gift Path: Exchange and Rivalry in John Smith’s A True Relation.” American Literary History 15.4 (Winter 2003): 655–682.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/ALH/AJG046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      A True Relation should be read with the Smith-Zúñiga map in hand. The author argues that Smith was a master of the middle ground between James Fort and Powhatan. Two questionable unities appear in former readings of A True Relation: Smith’s self-identity and the narrative’s representation of supposedly homogeneous space. Here and elsewhere, Boelhower 1988 (cited under Smith as Geographer, Cartographer, and Explorer) draws new attention to Smith as an important cartographer. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                      • Seelye, John. Prophetic Waters: The River in Early American Life and Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Smith’s letter belongs to the literature of adventure. Seelye suggests that A True Relation should be called the Epic of Virginia, although it is imbued with a strong dose of humor and comic spirit. Although Seelye mentions Indian hospitality and gift exchange, he shows no anthropological awareness of the gift economy. The author also notes that Smith has a utilitarian and martial view of the “New World”—his traits are those of the American hero to come. See pp. 63–80.

                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                        • Smith, John. A True Relation of Virginia. Edited by Charles Deane. Boston: Wiggin and Lunt, 1866.

                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          In his introduction Deane famously calls into question the credibility of Smith’s account of his rescue by Pocahontas—a claim he also made in Wingfield 1860 (cited under the Pocahontas Narrative in the 19th Century).

                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                          • Spengemann, William C. “John Smith’s True Relation and the Idea of American Literature.” In A New World of Words: Redefining Early American Literature. By William C. Spengemann, 51–93. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            The author devotes a chapter to A True Relation and “the idea of American literature.” At issue here is the “American-ness” of the text, its literariness, and the place of composition as defining features. The letter has two quite different authors. For Smith, Virginia is “a scene of self-realization” (p. 57), whereas for John Healey, the second author back in London, it is “an outpost of empire” (p. 57). Spengemann provides an in-depth discussion of the language used in Smith’s letter.

                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                            The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles

                                                                                            This book, part of which is a compilation of writings by other authors, is considered Smith’s masterpiece and provided his contemporaries with the first comprehensive narrative of the British Empire in the New World. Parts of it are often anthologized, especially those relating to his rescue by Pocahontas, and they are discussed more fully under Thematic Criticism. Also, see Barbour 1986 (cited under Collected Works), Volume 2, pp. 27–31, 487–490: the “Introduction,” and the “Bibliographical Note.” Franklin 1979 and Franklin 1988 find in Smith’s prose the germ of a specifically American form of writing, thus building on the much earlier opinion of the anonymous author of “Retrospective” in 1808 (Anthology Society 1808). Simpson 1979–1980, too, traces in Smith a convergence of place, history, and writing style; whereas Walden 2010 argues that even Smith’s storytelling braggadocio is grounded in the oral style of sailors.

                                                                                            • Anthology Society. “Retrospective Notice of American Literature: Review of The General Historie of Virginia, . . . by Captain John Smith.” In Monthly Anthology and Boston Review 5. By Anthology Society, 455–460. Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1808.

                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This review points out Smith’s many talents and roles and praises him for his bare style embedded in hard facts.

                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                              • Franklin, Wayne. Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers: The Diligent Writers of Early America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                The author dedicates only a few pages to Generall Historie, but these offer important observations on its medley of voices and points of view, including Smith’s. Franklin compares Smith’s narrative to William Bradford’s journal “Of Plymouth Plantation” (written between 1630 and 1647) and to the last section of Generall Historie in which Smith answers the Commissioners’ questions about Virginia, thus becoming the true voice of the colony. See pp. 187–190.

                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                • Franklin, Wayne. “Literature of Discovery and Exploration.” In Columbia Literary History of the United States. Edited by Emory Elliott, Martha Banta, Terence Martin, David Minter, Marjorie Perloff, and Daniel B. Shea, 16–23. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  “Hence [in the Generall Historie] he represents the new contingency of American writing in general, its intimate engagement with geography. In him we may perceive for the first time that felt mixture of self and world, personality and place, which has made the role of space in American art as much an affair of the spirit as of topography pure and simple” (p. 21).

                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                  • Henry, William Wirt. “Did Percy Denounce Smith’s History of Virginia?” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1.4 (1893–1894): 473–476.

                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    According to the author, George Percy did not dismiss Smith’s Generall Historie in a letter to his brother.

                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                    • Lehman, Forrest K. “Settled Place, Contested Past: Reconciling George Percy’s ‘A Trewe Relacyon’ with John Smith’s ‘Generall Historie.’” Early American Literature 42.2 (2007): 235–261.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/eal.2007.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      George Percy apparently wrote his own account of what happened in Jamestown in late 1609 to set the record straight. The record, of course, was authored by John Smith in his expansive and seemingly self-serving narrative A Generall Historie. Since both Percy and Smith were among Jamestown’s first settlers, we are faced with competing narratives about what really happened in those turbulent months before the arrival of Lord De La Warr. Lehman begins with this face-off but, through a close comparison of the two narratives, he argues that, in fact, Percy actually confirms Smith’s version of the facts. Although Percy stayed on at Jamestown longer than Smith and wrote his account of events somewhat later, he unwittingly ended up alluding to his own shortcomings as president of the colony. As Lehman demonstrates, Percy sided with Captains Ratcliffe, Archer, Martin—Smith’s political rivals—but did not want to share the consequences of their treasonous actions.

                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                      • Simpson, Lewis P. “The Act of Thought in Virginia.” Early American Literature 14.3 (Winter 1979–1980): 253–268.

                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Smith’s contributions to the Generall Historie reveal a union of self, letters, and history. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                        • Walden, Daniel. “America’s First Coastal Community: A Cis- and Circumatlantic Reading of John Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia.” Atlantic Studies 7.3 (September 2010): 329–347.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/14788810.2010.495197Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          The author focuses on the maritime culture and the storytelling tradition of sailors to provide a new interpretation of Smith’s ethnocentric and egocentric narrative. Early Jamestown was a maritime world onshore, and The Generall Historie, an early Atlanticist text, reflects this influence when filtering the terrible conditions of life there. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                          Other Works by Smith

                                                                                                          In recent years scholars such as Philip Barbour have begun to appreciate Smith’s navigational expertise and the two works he published on the subject. These works—An Accidence (Smith 1626) and A Sea Grammar (Smith 1819a)—are directly related to Smith’s cartographic skills, although scholars have yet to bridge these two sides of his achievement. Discussing The True Travels (Smith 1819b), Delany 1969 suggests a literary precedent for it, whereas Emerson 1993 (cited under Smith as Autobiographer and Writer) claims that in Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere (Smith 1865) Smith’s prose is equal to that of the great Elizabethan prose writers. For a bibliography, see Barbour 1986 (cited under Collected Works).

                                                                                                          Thematic Criticism

                                                                                                          It is largely by investigating a variety of themes in Smith’s works that scholars have dealt with Smith’s life and writings. This section provides the major themes identified by past and contemporary scholars who have examined Smith.

                                                                                                          Smith as Geographer, Cartographer, and Explorer

                                                                                                          As appears from his writings, Smith often went on exploring expeditions to study the territory and its peoples, to look for a Southwest passage to China, and to become familiar with the region’s rivers and geography. He was also a skilled cartographer (see Barbour 1972 and Boelhower 1988), an aspect of his work that won attention in the 19th century (see Winsor 1880) but deserves further study today. Indeed, Everett 1850 huffed over Smith’s choice of place names for New England, whereas Lenox 1854 discusses visual materials included in The Generall Historie. Recently, Rountree, et al. 2007 constitutes an exemplary interdisciplinary study of Smith’s Virginia travels, and the authors of McCary and Barka 1977 use archaeological evidence to appreciate the accuracy of an early Smith map.

                                                                                                          • Barbour, Philip L. “The Earliest Reconnaissance of the Chesapeake Bay Area: Captain John Smith’s Map and Indian Vocabulary: Part 2.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 80.1 (1972): 21–51.

                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Barbour studies the early transcriptions of Algonquian words in Smith’s “Map of Virginia” and provides a glossary and translation of them. This article is a continuation of Part 1 (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 79.3 [1971], pp. 280–302). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                            • Boelhower, William. “Inventing America: A Model of Cartographic Semiotics.” Word and Image 4.2 (April–June 1988): 475–497.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/02666286.1988.10436194Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              The author discusses Smith’s maps of Virginia and of New England in the context of a general model of cartographic semiotics.

                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                              • Everett, Edward. Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions. Vol. 2. Boston: Little, Brown, 1850.

                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                The author criticizes the place names Smith chose for sites along the coast of New England, especially Cape Tragabigzanda. See pp. 113–114.

                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                • Lenox, James. “Curiosities of ‘American Literature’: No. 1.” Norton’s Literary Gazette, n.s., 1 (1854): 134–135.

                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  The author discusses the various states of the maps and illustrations accompanying The Generall Historie.

                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  • McCary, Ben C., and Norman Barka. “The John Smith and Zúñiga Maps in the Light of Recent Archaeological Investigations along the Chickahominy River.” Archaeology of Eastern North America 5 (1977): 73–86.

                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    The authors, both of them archaeologists, identify most of the sites that Smith named on his 1608 map of Virginia. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    • Rountree, Helen C., Wayne E. Clark, Kent Mountfold, et al. John Smith’s Chesapeake Voyages, 1607–1609. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      For each of Smith’s voyages, the authors provide geographical, archaeological, ecological, and ethno-historical information. This interdisciplinary volume is richly illustrated with maps of the voyages and special one-page windows on such details as the members who accompanied Smith on a particular voyage; plantation houses; native words; and sturgeon, rays, stingers, and river oysters. Indispensable.

                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      • Russo, Jean B., and J. Elliott Russo. Planting an Empire. The Early Chesapeake in British North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        In their study of such crucial issues as the climate, the environment, and the various crop experiments of the early settler colonies of Virginia and Maryland, the authors mine Smith’s writings for his often circumstantial observations on the Chesapeake’s rivers and bays as well as his acute awareness of the territory’s geographical and mineral features. They appreciate Smith for his descriptive powers and his detailed reportage on the Chesapeake’s indigenous peoples. Himself the son of a farmer, Smith was appropriately aware of the agricultural opportunities available to the Jamestown settlers. As the authors note, Smith was a skilled cartographer, having produced not only a beautiful but also a highly accurate map of Virginia (1612), rich in local place names and colonial prepossession.

                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                        • Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607–1763. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Smith only figures into the early scenes of the British settling of the Chesapeake, but Walsh’s important focus on plantation management in the colonies of Virginia and Maryland and her specific interest in economic and agricultural history present us with an important dimension of his role in the founding and settling of the Jamestown colony. Thus, Smith’s observations on tobacco, the climate, the river system, the land, and the indigenous peoples’ practices and customs are thrust into the foreground and provide important information beyond the usual emphasis on his role as an adventurer and man of action.

                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                          • Winsor, Justin. “Introduction.” In The Memorial History of Boston. Vol. 1. Edited by Justin Winsor, i–xii. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1880.

                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            The author includes bibliography on the various states of Smith’s map of New England.

                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                            Smith as Autobiographer and Writer

                                                                                                                            Not all critics agree in their evaluations of Smith’s prose style; on the other hand, it often varies within a single work as well as from work to work. Nevertheless, several major scholars praise Smith’s direct, descriptive, and often action-filled prose. Emerson 1993 studies Smith solely as a writer, the first to do so. Fuller 1995 concentrates on Smith as writer as well but also examines his use of visual materials. However, Emerson and Fuller were preceded by Jones 1964, which not only champions Smith as an excellent Renaissance prose writer but also ferrets out the classical models he might have used. Shields 2007 evokes the ancient Britons in discussing Smith’s narrative self-fashioning and mentions yet other possible models. Smith’s revisions have also attracted major scholarly interest (for example, Vaughan 1973). Hayes 1991 correlates style and purpose in Smith’s works, thereby suggesting multiple strategies. Dolle 1992 points out that one of these is surely Smith’s satire of Raleigh’s misguided goals for English imperial expansion. Also sensitive to discursive strategies, Wright 1973 isolates Smith’s comic spirit.

                                                                                                                            • Dolle, Raymond F. “Captain John Smith’s Satire of Sir Walter Raleigh.” In Early American Literature and Culture. Edited by Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola, 73–83. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1992.

                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Smith and Raleigh had two quite different ideas about promoting colonization. For Smith, New England offered excellent fishing, fur trading, and lumbering resources, whereas for Raleigh, Guiana offered gold. The author reviews Smith’s texts—from A Description of New England (1614) to True Travels (1630)—to study the evolution of his criticism of Raleigh’s promotional get-rich-quick scheme.

                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                              • Emerson, Everett H. Captain John Smith. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1993.

                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Originally published in 1971. Emerson offers us the first extended study of Smith as an author and writer. Emerson dedicates his book to Philip L. Barbour and singles out the second and third books of the Generall Historie as Smith at his narrative best. Anticipating the work of Fuller 1995, the author studies the revisions and additions that went into the making of the Generall Historie. Emerson’s Smith, by the way, is no longer an Elizabethan but the prototypical American hero.

                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                • Fichtelberg, Joseph. “The Colonial Stage: Risk and Promise in John Smith’s Virginia.” Early American History 39.1 (2004): 11–40.

                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  After discussing the importance of performance in Renaissance England, the author zeroes in on its more complicated meanings in intercivilizational encounters in colonial Virginia and in Smith’s narrative self-fashioning. As he demonstrates in his various writings, Smith has an admittedly dramatic sense of his own role in such encounters and purposefully engages in theatrics when dealing with Powhatan and other indigenous chiefs along the James River. Fichtelberg illuminates the anthropological, political, and existential nuances behind Smith’s theatrics. Rather than writing off the Cape Merchant’s hyperbolic actions as mere braggadocio, we are shown how our famous captain was actually balancing risk with promise in often death-defying situations where perhaps only role-playing and posturing could persuade both the indigenous chiefs and Smith himself.

                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                  • Fuller, Mary C. Voyages in Print: English Travel to America, 1576–1624. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Fuller picks up from the focus on Smith as writer, compiler, and editor Emerson 1993 but expands her interest to cover the visual material—the images and maps—that Smith included in his works. After so much scholarship on what Smith wrote, Fuller now turns refreshingly to how he wrote. An important development in Smith scholarship. See pp. 85–140.

                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                    • Hayes, Kevin J. “Defining the Ideal Colonist: Captain John Smith’s Revisions from A True Relation to the Proceedings to the Third Book of the Generall Historie.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 99.2 (April 1991): 123–144.

                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      The details in all three of these works by Smith vary because of, according to Hayes, the different intentions he had for each. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                      • Jones, Howard Mumford. O Strange New World: American Culture, the Formative Years. New York: Viking, 1964.

                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        In his writings Smith fashioned himself to appear as a Renaissance man. He “trained himself for knight’errantry, warred against the Mohammedans, put three Turks’ heads on his coat-of-arms, was . . . a navigator, a statesman, a general, and a scholar so trained in Renaissance ideals as to imitate the classical historians” (p. 117). In the “Epistle Dedicatory” of True Travels (London: 1630), Smith pays homage to Renaissance courtly style by mentioning Il Cortigiano and seems to have edited the multi-authored Proceedings of the English Colonie in Virginia (1612) to read like a prose Aeneid.

                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                        • Shields, David S. “The Genius of Ancient Britain.” In The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550–1624. Edited by Peter C. Mancall, 489–509. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Smith was vital to the Virginia colony and its history because his biography evoked the ancient Britons, who were men of both action and contemplation. Although Caesar’s Gallic Wars served as an acknowledged model for Smith, the author suggests a more instructive one, Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of Eminent Philosophers. An important new facet of Smith’s literary significance.

                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                          • Vaughan, Alden T. “The Evolution of Virginia History: Early Historians of the First Colony.” In Perspectives on Early American History. Edited by Alden T. Vaughan and George Athan Billias, 9–39. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            The author discusses the revisions Smith made to improve The Generall Historie, which was already in Smith’s day considered an epic of England’s efforts to conquer a vast part of North America. He also provides an inventory of the uniquely American themes in Smith’s work.

                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                            • Wright, Louis B. “Human Comedy in Early America.” In The Comic Imagination in American Literature. Edited by Louis B. Rubin Jr., 17–31. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1973.

                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              The author discusses Smith’s lively sense of humor.

                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                              Smith as Ethnographer

                                                                                                                                              Smith’s direct contact with the various peoples in the Chesapeake Tidewater Basin and his narratives dealing with them make his work a fundamental source for knowledge of Indian customs, cuisine, agriculture, and so forth. Smith evidently was able to communicate with the Powhatan peoples in their own language and also provided a list and translation of native words. His mapping of Virginia is crucial for locating the sites of former Native American towns and their names. Thus, Feest 1978 relies heavily on Smith in a synthetic portrait of the Virginia Indians of the early 17th century. Although Fausz 1985 discusses Smith as a “culture broker,” Glenn 1944 and Cave 2011 agree in their assessments of Smith’s approach to Indian diplomacy. Rountree 1990 argues that Pocahontas’s rescue of Smith is improbable, whereas Gleach 1997 uses an ethno-historical approach to argue for the credibility of Smith’s version of his rescue.

                                                                                                                                              • Cave, Alfred A. Lethal Encounters: Englishmen and Indians in Colonial Virginia. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Cave devotes chapter 3 to Smith’s writings, which he considers too self-interested to be totally trustworthy. Nevertheless, Smith’s Indian diplomacy reveals a mixture of firmness and conciliation, violence and moderation, and severity and generosity. The cornerstone of this diplomacy was “calculated coercion” (p. 52). See pp. 45–74.

                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                • Fausz, J. Frederick. “Patterns of Anglo-Indian Aggression and Accommodation along the Mid-Atlantic Coast, 1584–1634.” In Cultures in Contact: The Impact of European Contacts on Native American Cultural Institutions, A.D. 1000–1800. Edited by William W. Fitzhugh, 225–268. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.

                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Fausz considers Smith an able middleman, a culture-broker—as, for that matter, Smith’s True Relation of 1608 demonstrates.

                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                  • Feest, Christian F. “Virginia Algonquians.” In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, Northeast. Edited by William C. Sturtevant and Bruce G. Trigger, 253–270. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1978.

                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Feest provides us with a well-informed account of current research on the Virginia Algonquians, including Smith’s contributions.

                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                    • Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Gleach’s ethno-history focuses on the early years of contact between the Powhatan confederacy and the colonists at Jamestown. He convincingly illuminates Smith’s captivity and rebirth into a new world of cultural relationships. The author comments negatively on previous interpretations in Barbour 1969, cited under the Pocahontas Narrative in the 20th Century; pp. 23–26) and Rountree 1990 (pp. 38–39) and believes that Smith, although naïve and ethnocentric, is essentially telling the truth.

                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                      • Glenn, Keith. “Captain John Smith and the Indians.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 52.4 (October 1944): 228–248.

                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        The author argues that Smith’s policy toward the Indians was to subdue them and make them fear and serve the English. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                        • Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia through Four Centuries. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          According to the author, Smith’s account of his captivity in Generall Historie is apocryphal. In discussing Smith’s captivity among the Powhatans, Rountree underscores the diplomacy of hospitality shown to him (see Boelhower 2003, cited under A True Relation). An anthropologist, she does not agree with those who read his rescue by Pocahontas as part of an adoption ceremony. Rountree also comments on, and occasionally reinterprets, Smith’s explanations of Indian behavior and customs. See pp. 45–65.

                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                          • Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontas, Powhatan, and Opechancanough. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            The author, an ethno-historian, discusses the role of native women and how their power decreased as Powhatan strengthened his confederation. But as Rountree notes, Powhatan misjudged the staying power of the English colonists after the harsh winter of 1609–1610. As the colony survived and grew, Opechancanough, Powhatan’s younger brother, became a major figure as both a go-between and a check on English expansion. In the framework of this larger historical perspective, Rountree also revises the myth of Pocahontas as cultural mediator. Thoroughly acquainted with the primary sources of English colonization in the Chesapeake, Rountree is skilled in reading them against the grain, teasing out a substantial “subaltern” history of the native peoples. In the process, she throws new light on John Smith’s (Chawnzmit, in Powhatan) version of the settler colony at Jamestown. Her use of maps as primary evidence casts light on how the Virginia colonists took over more and more of the rich farmland once cultivated by the very people who helped them survive.

                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                            Smith and Pocahontas

                                                                                                                                                            Smith’s few paragraphs on his rescue by Pocahontas have led to a central myth both in Southern history and in American national history. They have also led to numberless retellings in fiction, poetry, and film. Because Smith only mentioned his rescue by Pocahontas in a late work, The Generall Historie, anthropologists, historians, and literary critics have endlessly argued over both the meaning of this rescue and the author’s truthfulness.

                                                                                                                                                            The Pocahontas Narrative in the 20th Century

                                                                                                                                                            We are fortunate to have so many fine scholars dealing with the Pocahontas narrative over the last thirty years. A number of them (e.g., Townsend 2005, Allen 2003, Hulme 1986, Barbour 1969) are well equipped to study Pocahontas’s rescue of Smith because of their interdisciplinary interests in anthropology and ethno-history. Lemay 1992 is ever an advocate of Smith’s fundamental veracity, whereas Tilton 1994 provides the most comprehensive cross-disciplinary treatment of the Pocahontas story. Jenkins 1977 offers an excellent overview and bibliography of the history of Pocahontas’s rescue. Typical of scholars of his day, the author of Young 1962 offers an appreciation of the mythic dimensions of Smith’s Pocahontas narrative, and Hubbell 1957 surveys the many different positions that scholars have taken toward Smith.

                                                                                                                                                            • Allen, Paula Gunn. Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              The title specifies the roles that the author deploys to give us a truly Native American Pocahontas. Allen was an important feminist activist associated with the Laguna people. She was a novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. This study brings together many of her major interests concerning a famous Algonquian woman.

                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                              • Barbour, Philip L. Pocahontas and Her World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.

                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Extended discussion of Smith and Pocahontas appears in chapters 2 and 3.

                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                • Hubbell, Jay B. “The Smith-Pocahontas Story in Literature.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 65.3 (July 1957): 275–300.

                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Important review of the multiple ways in which Smith’s life has been used.

                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                  • Hulme, Peter. “John Smith and Pocahontas.” In Colonial Encounters. By Peter Hulme, 137–173. New York: Methuen, 1986.

                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Hulme includes this archetypal colonial encounter in his influential study of the Early Modern period. He strips away the encrustations of romance surrounding the Smith–Pocahontas narrative, using an anthropological and new-historical perspective to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                    • Jenkins, William Warren. “Three Centuries in the Development of the Pocahontas Story in American Literature, 1608–1908.” PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 1977.

                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Rich in bibliographical data regarding the strictly literary sources of the Pocahontas story.

                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                      • Lemay, J. A. Leo. Did Pocahontas Save Captain John Smith? Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992.

                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        The occasion for this book is that “no one in the 20th century has carefully examined the question” (p. xi). As for Pocahontas’s rescue of Smith, it only appears in The Generall Historie (1624). Lemay, a confessed admirer of Smith, sifts through the scholarship and Smith’s works and is convinced his hero is telling the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                        • Tilton, Robert S. Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          A fully researched history of the Pocahontas narration from the early days of the colonial and federalist United States to the era of the romantic Indian and sectionalist propaganda, with a separate chapter on John Gadsby Chapman’s famous painting The Baptism of Pocahontas (1840). The author’s generous inclusion and discussion of visual materials portraying Pocahontas are an essential part of the book.

                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                          • Townsend, Camilla. Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Adding to an important scholarly trend in early colonial studies, the author seeks to articulate the perspective of the Powhatan peoples and their often neglected or misunderstood contribution to the history of the Virginia colony. In the process, she demythologizes and redefines the role Pocahontas (Matoaka) played as an intercultural figure and looks closely at Powhatan’s decision not to exterminate the colonists when their numbers were down to sixty. In this revisionary account of the Smith-Pocahontas affair and its place in the history of Jamestown, the author rakes through all of the extant sources dealing directly or indirectly with Powhatan-English relations (reports, histories, ethno-histories) and embeds them in a larger survey of cultural interaction that includes the Spanish presence in the Americas. As Townsend recalls, Smith seems to have fancied himself as an English Cortés.

                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                            • Young, Philip. “The Mother of Us All: Pocahontas Reconsidered.” Kenyon Review 24.3 (Summer 1962): 391–415.

                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              The author discusses the mythic resonance of Smith’s Pocahontas narrative, which immediately inspired any number of fiction writers and dramatists. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                              The Pocahontas Narrative in the 19th Century

                                                                                                                                                                              A famous quarrel between Northern and Southern historians broke out when Deane’s edited version of “A Discourse of Virginia” (Wingfield 1860) called into question the veracity of Smith’s account of his rescue by Pocahontas. Previously, the general attitude toward Smith was the romantic version of Smith’s rescue set out in Simms 1962 and Davis 1909 (originally published in 1803). A few years after Deane, Henry Adams (Adams 1867) accused Smith of being a liar and a fabulator. Among those who came to Smith’s defense was William Wirt Henry (see Henry 1875, Henry 1882, and Henry 1891).

                                                                                                                                                                              • Adams, Henry. “Captain John Smith.” North American Review 104.214 (January 1867): 1–30.

                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Adams famously questions Smith’s truthfulness and reliability when recounting the latter’s rescue by Pocahontas. Adams’s accusation of Smith as a liar and egomaniac led to a reconsideration of Smith that lasted for decades. Adams’s essay, written in 1862, is avowedly a piece of propaganda, part of his anti-Southern campaign.

                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                • Davis, John. Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America during 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, and 1802. Introduction and notes by A. J. Morrison. New York: Henry Holt, 1909.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Originally published in 1803. An important early retelling of Pocahontas’s rescue of Smith. In a long digression, the author, a British expatriate, knowingly provides a romantic version of the Pocahontas story: “No Traveller before me has erected a monument to her memory [. . .]” (p. 321). His retelling served as a model for many writers after him.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Henry, William Wirt. “The Rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas.” Potters American Monthly 4 (1875): 523–528.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    See also pp. 591–597. A rebuttal of Henry Adams’s argument accusing Smith of being a liar.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Henry, William Wirt. “The Settlement at Jamestown, with Particular Reference to the Late Attacks upon Captain Smith, Pocahontas, and John Rolfe.” In Proceedings of the Virginia Historical Society at the Annual Meeting, February 24, 1882. By Virginia Historical Society, 10–63. Richmond: Virginia Historical Society, 1882.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Henry reviews the early Jamestown documents and discusses why none of them—including Smith’s A True Relation —mentions Smith’s rescue by Pocahontas. In short, he roundly defends Smith and traces possible allusions to the rescue in his other works.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Henry, William Wirt. “A Defense of Captain John Smith.” Magazine of American History 25.4 (1891): 300–313.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Henry seeks to explain why Smith omitted his rescue by Pocahontas from his early letter A True Relation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Simms, William Gilmore. “Pocahontas: A Subject for the Historical Painter.” In Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction. Edited by C. Hugh Holman, 88–101. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Originally printed in Southern and Western Monthly Magazine and Review 2 (September 1845): 145–154. An early appeal to artists and writers to engage with the Pocahontas legend as the stuff of a uniquely American epic.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wingfield, Edward Maria. “A Discourse of Virginia.” In Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Vol. 4. Edited by Charles Deane, 67–103. Boston: American Antiquarian Society, 1860.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            From Wingfield’s journal of transactions in the colony June 1607–April 1608. An influential New England historian, Deane is the first scholar to question Smith’s credibility in recounting his rescue by Pocahontas. He was followed by Henry Adams in 1867. Given the importance of Pocahontas and Smith in early colonial histories, this opinion sparked an intense debate between Northern and Southern historians over the next decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                            Smith and the Lost Colony

                                                                                                                                                                                            In his several Tidewater explorations, Smith sought survivors from the Lost Colony among various Indian tribes, although according to Purchas 1905–1907, Smith had told him that the Lost Colony had been exterminated by the Indians. Kupperman 1984 gives an excellent overview of the history of the Lost Colony but uses Smith sparingly. Quinn 1974, Quinn 1984, and, more recently, Horn 2010 assess what Smith might have learned about the Lost Colony from various Indian sources; both scholars use the Smith-Zúñiga map extensively to bolster their observations.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Horn, James. A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. New York: Basic, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Horn mentions the Smith-Zúñiga map, with three of Smith’s annotations that directly mention the possible sites where members of the Lost Colony could be found, especially “Ocanahonan,” “Panawicke,” and “Pakerakanick.” The map was drawn during the spring of 1608 and reflects Smith’s explorations as he sought a way to the Pacific Ocean and some trace of the survivors of the Lost Colony. (See location maps by Rebecca L. Wrenn, pp. 44, 88, 129, and 213.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an important work on the Lost Colony, with some mention of Smith’s references to it. See pp. 137–140.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Purchas, Samuel. Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes. 20 vols. Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1905–1907.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Purchas claims that Powhatan told Smith that he had killed “those at Roanoke” (Vol. 19, p. 228). Originally published in 1625.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Quinn, David Beers. England and the Discovery of America, 1481–1620. London: Allen and Unwin, 1974.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In chapter 17, “The Lost Colony in Myth and Reality, 1586–1625,” Smith figures prominently for the information he gathered from Opechancanough, Powhatan, and the Chowanoac Indians about the members of the Lost Colony. Quinn makes use of the Zúñiga-Smith map to locate the town of Ocanahonon, rumored to be the site where members of the Lost Colony were currently living.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Quinn, David Beers. Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584–1606. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quinn, who discusses the Lost Colony at length, argues that some of the colonists at Roanoke went to live with the Chesapeakes, later exterminated by Powhatan. Quinn draws on Smith’s narratives and map of 1608. See pp. 341–378.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Archaeology

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Historical archaeology has become increasingly important to historians, geographers, ethnographers, and literary scholars over the last few decades. Jamestown is an important archaeological site with much to offer other scholarly disciplines, as the Hume 1994 and Kelso 2006 volumes suggest. As their books reveal, the authors of these volumes have been officially connected to the ongoing archaeological investigation of the Jamestown site. Two other early essays (Randolph 1837 and Campbell 1846) suggest cursory interest in sites that were once associated with Smith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Campbell, Charles. “Powhatan’s Chimney.” Southern Literary Messenger 12.9 (September 1846): 538–540.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The chimney, it is argued, stands on the site of Powhatan’s chief town, Werowocomoco, where Smith learned the meaning of Indian diplomacy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hume, Ivor Noël. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne. New York: Knopf, 1994.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Combining the disciplines of history and archaeology, Hume focuses on the Lost Colony of Roanoke and Jamestown. The book is richly illustrated with maps, period drawings, photographs of archaeological sites, and site artifacts. This is an important archaeological contribution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kelso, William M. Jamestown: The Buried Truth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Archaeology also studies Smith’s anonymous “diverse others,” who contributed just as significantly to the Jamestown story as those whose actions are storied. That said, Smith’s Virginia narratives and maps (with their many place names) are very helpful to Virginia archaeologists as they study the location of Indian towns, the choice of site for Jamestown, the fort and palizado designs, and the local products to be commercialized.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Randolph, Richard. “Island of Jamestown.” Southern Literary Messenger 3.5 (1837): 302–304.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In a visit to the island of Jamestown in 1837, poet Richard Randolph noticed that the remains of James Fort have been washed away by the tides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fiction

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Smith and Pocahontas have remained culture heroes in large part because novelists, dramatists, poets, and filmmakers have frequently been captivated by their singular encounter. Although Davis 1805a can claim to be the first Pocahontas novel, Cooke 1885 is perhaps the best in that century. The backbone of Davis 1805b seems to have been largely plagiarized. Kennedy 1832 inserted an essay on Smith into his novel, and the author of Thackery 1857–1859 also included a chapter on Pocahontas in his book. Garnett 1953 has the distinct merit of providing a realistic version of the Pocahontas–Smith relationship.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cooke, John Esten. My Lady Pokahontas: A True Relation of Virginia; Writ by Anas Todkill, Puritan and Pilgrim. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1885.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is one of the best Pocahontas novels. In the opening scene at the Mermaid tavern, Anas Todkill sits down with Shakespeare and Smith. Smith talks while Shakespeare, then in the process of plotting The Tempest, listens. In chapter 4 Smith recounts how Pocahontas saved him; later, he meets Shakespeare again. Back in London, Todkill goes to the Globe Theater, where he enjoys watching The Tempest; in a box with Queen Elizabeth is Pocahontas herself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Davis, John. Captain Smith and Princess Pocahontas: An Indian Tale. Philadelphia: T. L. Plowman, 1805a.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first declaredly fictional account of the narrative in the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Davis, John. The First Settlers of Virginia: An Historical Novel. New York: I. Riley, 1805b.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Evidently Davis took much of the information for his novel from Belknap 1794 (cited under 18th- and 19-Century Biographies).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Garnett, David. Pocahontas, or the Nonpareil of Virginia. London: Chatto and Windus, 1953.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Originally published in 1933. Garnett says in the introduction to his historical novel that he has tried to be as faithful to the evidence as possible. As Hayes 1991 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies) notes in the bibliography, the novel was favorably received and praised when it first came out. It is often considered the best novel on the subject.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kennedy, John Pendleton. Swallow Barn, or a Sojourn in the Old Dominion. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1832.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the first edition of his novel, the author added a long essay on Smith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Thackery, William Makepeace. The Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1857–1859.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Originally published in 1800. The second half of the novel contains a chapter titled “Pocahontas” (pp. 682–689) and a poem by the same name (pp. 683–684). The narrator sings of Smith’s travels and mentions such heroic deeds as his beheading of three Turks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Juvenile Narratives and Biography

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Smith has regularly been pushed forward as a positive role model for young American teenagers who have not yet been exposed to frontier values. The selection of juvenile fiction below is only a sampling but enough to encourage scholars to do more with Smith among the children. Haden 2005 represents a collaborative effort to study Smith’s early life in Willoughby by young primary school students and their teacher. Three works from the mid-20th century all give us a heroic and hyperactive Smith. Foster 1959 portrays Smith as a world traveler and is rich in maps and portraits. Syme 1954 provides dramatic illustrations of Smith in action, whereas Holberg 1946 also tells of a heroic and inspirational Smith. Almost a century earlier, Hawks and Lilly 1842 celebrates Smith’s adventures on the wilderness frontier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Foster, Genevieve. The World of Captain John Smith, 1580–1631. Illustrated by Genevieve Foster. New York: Scribner, 1959.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This richly illustrated book presents adolescent readers not only with John Smith as an Elizabethan hero off on brave adventure but also the many worlds he visited—including Holland, Austria, Turkey, Italy, the Caribbean islands, and, most notably, North America. The illustrations include topographical maps, navigational instruments, portraits of historical figures, town plans, the anatomy of an English ship, scenes from Smith’s life, and so forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Haden, John. Captain John Smith of Willoughby and the Founding of America. Grantham, UK: Barny, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This short book on the early years of John Smith and his role in helping to establish the Virginia colony was written and illustrated with the help of the pupils from two village primary schools, Willoughby and Partney, and their headteachers. It contains some interesting local documentation and is a fine example of what young researchers can produce when guided by their teachers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hawks, Francis L., and Lambert Lilly. The Adventures of Captain John Smith: The Founder of the Colony of Virginia. New York: D. Appleton, 1842.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A simplified biography of Smith as Captain Courageous; aimed at teenagers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Holberg, Ruth Langland. Captain John Smith: The Lad from Lincolnshire. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1946.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Another heroic life to inspire children; Smith is brave, forthright, virtuous—without a forked tongue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Syme, Ronald. John Smith of Virginia. Illustrated by William Stobbs. New York: William Morrow, 1954.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aimed at adolescent readers, Stobbs’s black-and-white images capture the salient dramatic moments of Smith’s heroic life, which Symes recounts from beginning to end. This biography celebrates Smith as an expression of the English genius for adventure, but our hero was also a mapmaker, a natural linguist, and a prolific writer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Drama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the mid-19th century, plays about Pocahontas (and John Smith) were quite popular. For critical discussions of this phenomenon, see Smith and Pocahontas. Barker 1808 is the first Pocahontas play to be presented. Barnes 1848 suggests that this famous Indian princess is the mother of us all, whereas Custis 1953 (originally published in 1830) favors the rescue plot. Owen 1837 argues for the importance of historical drama in creating a usable past, whereas Brougham 1856? comes late enough to offer a delightful musical burlesque of the Pocahontas legend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Barker, James Nelson. The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage. Philadelphia: G. E. Blake, 1808.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Evidently, this is the first Pocahontas play that was actually performed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Barnes, Charlotte M. S. “The Forest Princess, or Two Centuries Ago.” In Plays, Prose and Poetry. By Charlotte M. S. Barnes, 145–268. Philadelphia: E. H. Butler, 1848.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A once-popular play staging the improbable romance of an Indian princess and her role in the British (and American) empire and ethnogenesis, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Brougham, John. Po-ca-hon-tas, or, the Gentle Savage. New York: S. French, 1856?.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This highly popular, two-act musical drama’s subtitle sets the tone: “An Original, Aboriginal Erratic Operatic Semi-civilized and Demi-savage Extravaganza.” The burlesque parodies the noble savage and centers on the Indian princess’s two lovers who play a game of cards to decide which of them will win her hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Custis, George Washington Parke. “Pocahontas, or the Settlers of Virginia.” In Representative American Plays from 1767 to the Present Day. 7th ed. Edited by Arthur Hobson Quinn, 165–192. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1953.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Originally published in 1830. This romantic play is centered on Pocahontas’s legendary rescue of Smith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Owen, Robert Dale. Pocahontas: A Historical Drama. New York: G. Dearborn, 1837.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The author of this five-act drama calls himself a citizen of the West and appends a substantial introductory essay on the importance of drawing on our own historical past, rather than that of classical Greece or the Middle Ages. The characters are all historical, and the play claims to represent actual events.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Poetry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Smith has often been pulled onstage thanks to his romantic relation to Pocahontas—and so it is in many of the verse romances below. Carter 1821 and Smith 1841 sing of Smith’s well-known heroic deeds, whereas Sigourney 1841 sees Smith as a knight ruled by the code of chivalry. Webster 1840 faithfully portrays Pocahontas as Smith saw her. However, not all of our poets were favorable to Smith; Lloyd 1631 presents Smith’s overblown adventures in a satiric vein, immediately after Smith’s death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Film

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Smith has captured the attention of a considerable number of film directors over the years, mostly because of his relation to Pocahontas. Films on Smith range from animations (Ellery and Raymond 2000, Gabriel and Goldberg 2005) to comedy (Foy 1924). In Malick 2006, Smith and Pocahontas are each banished, by the English and the Indians, respectively, and meet alone in the wilderness. Suissa 2000 is a realistic attempt to represent what happened between Smith and Pocahontas, whereas Landers 2005 has Smith tell his story at the court of King James I. In the end he remains disheartened, having lost his Indian princess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ellery, Tom, and Bradley Raymond, dirs. Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, 1998. DVD. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Video, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Animation. Irene Bedard is the voice of Pocahontas; Donal Gibson, the voice of John Smith. Pocahontas travels to England with Meeko, Flit, and Percy. Pocahontas plays the peacemaker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Foy, Bryan, dir. Pocahontas and John Smith. Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures, 1924.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A short, low-budget, black-and-white comedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gabriel, Mike, and Eric Goldberg, dirs. Pocahontas, 1995. DVD. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Video, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Animation. Mel Gibson is the voice of John Smith; Irene Bedard the voice of Pocahontas. The conventional story of our first American princess; a charming fairy tale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Krusen, Cristobal, dir. First Landing: The Voyage from England to Jamestown. DVD. Virginia Beach, VA: Christian Broadcasting Network, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The film dramatizes the Atlantic crossing and the tensions among the settlers. Only the efforts of the Reverend Robert Hunt succeed in reestablishing peace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Landers, Lew, dir. Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, 1953. DVD. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Smith tells about his Virginia adventure before King James I and his court. He recounts the dire circumstances of the colony and his role as go-between in making peace with the Indians. His relation to Pocahontas is the central attraction; when Smith returns to England, the Indian princess marries Rolfe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Malick, Terrence, dir. The New World, 2005. DVD. New York: New Line Home Video, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Smith, portrayed as an explorer, clashes with the Powhatans and with his fellow colonists. Pocahontas is banished from the tribe for disobedience, and Smith is also shunned. The two outcasts meet, and a romance springs up between them. In the end, she marries John Rolfe when the colonists tell her that Smith is dead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Suissa, Danièle J., dir. Pocahontas: The Legend, 1999. DVD. New York: GoodTimes Home Video, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After being captured by the Powhatans, Smith learns to live among them. He meets Pocahontas, and they become close. In the end, Smith understands that he and the English settlers do not belong there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Down