National Library acquires rare Batavia book
25 August 2011
This Utrecht edition is the only known one of its kind in Australia.
Director-General of the National Library of Australia Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich said the acquisition of the Pelsaert was a significant one for the Canberra institution.
‘This acquisition completes the National Library’s holdings of all the early editions of Pelsaert,’ Ms Schwirtlich said. ‘The other five editions came to the National Library through the generosity of our great benefactors Sir Rex Nan Kivell, EA Petherick and Sir John Ferguson.
‘The Utrecht edition is a rare and important book because it tells the unique, first-person account of the voyage to disaster that was the course of the Batavia.’
In 1629, the Batavia, on her maiden voyage from Texel in The Netherlands to Batavia - now modern-day Jakarta - sank after running aground on the Abrolhos Islands, off the coast of Western Australia. The story of this doomed voyage is one of the ugliest in Australian maritime history.
‘This account by Pelsaert of exactly what happened – from attempted seduction to shipwreck, mutiny to mass murder – shows the extremes of human behaviour as only an eyewitness account can,’ Ms Schwirtlich said.
‘It is an important acquisition for us because we are not aware of any other known copies of this edition in an Australian library collection.’
High-res images of the Pelsaert are available on request.
Expert National Library of Australia staff are available for interview
Media Contact: Sally Hopman,Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia
02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697 or firstname.lastname@example.org