A Steady Hand -
Governor Hunter and his First Fleet Sketchbook

History looks back on John Hunter with mixed reviews. Some biographers are critical of his leadership style as the Governor of Port Jackson (Sydney). Others say he was a failure at sea. Author Linda Groom, however, disagrees on both counts, claiming that Hunter was an outstanding seaman whose mere survival as governor was an achievement for his time.

Hunter grew up in Leith, near Edinburgh. In 1754 he joined the Royal Navy and in 1768, when Hunter was 30, he was made master. By 1786 he was captain, and appointed to the Sirius, flag ship of the First Fleet.

Hunter began his sketchbook in 1788 and although many of the works in the sketchbook are copies, Hunter brings his own (often humorous) interpretation to them. A Steady Hand contains a biography of John Hunter and luxurious colour plates of his works in the collection of the National Library.

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