The 21st March sees the 400th anniversary of the death of the famous Pocahontas. The Native American was immortalised in the Disney film of the same name, but she rose to prominence as one of the main figures in Captain John Smith’s The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith which was published in 1630.
This book recounts the experiences of Captain Smith (another main character in the Disney film) as a settler and explorer of one of the first colonies in Virginia in the 1620’s. The book was one of the inspirations for the film, and mentions Pocahontas several times. Some of these are shown below in images of the book, which are taken from the Downside copy.
We have at Downside one of the first editions of Captain Smith’s works, one of only four known to be in the United Kingdom. Through the book, the story of Pocahontas saving the lives of Smith and his men, being taken prisoner, her marriage to John Rolfe, her arrival in England and her introduction to Queen Anne are told as well as the mention of her death in Gravesend on this day four hundred years ago.
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