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The History and Present State of Virginia

A New Edition with an Introduction by Susan Scott Parrish

Robert Beverley

Publisher: Omohundro Institute
Imprint: OIEAHC
Published: 05/2013
Reprint: 2018
Pages: 384
Subject: History/United States: Southern,Colonial, Revolutionary Era & Early American History
Cloth ISBN: 9781469607948
Paperback ISBN: 9781469642376


While in London in 1705, Robert Beverley wrote and published The History and Present State of Virginia, one of the earliest printed English-language histories about North America by an author born there. Like his brother-in-law William Byrd II, Beverley was a scion of Virginia's planter elite, personally ambitious and at odds with royal governors in the colony. As a native-born American--most famously claiming "I am an Indian"--he provided English readers with the first thoroughgoing account of the province's past, natural history, Indians, and current politics and society. In this new edition, Susan Scott Parrish situates Beverley and his History in the context of the metropolitan-provincial political and cultural issues of his day and explores the many contradictions embedded in his narrative.

Parrish's introduction and the accompanying annotation, along with a fresh transcription of the 1705 publication and a more comprehensive comparison of emendations in the 1722 edition, will open Beverley's History to new, twenty-first-century readings by students of transatlantic history, colonialism, natural science, literature, and ethnohistory.


Robert Beverley (d. 1722) is best known as author of The History and Present State of Virginia (1705), the first published history of a British colony by a native of North America.

Susan Scott Parrish is an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan and author of American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World.


"A quality edition. Recommended. All general and academic collections."

"An American classic . . . This splendid edition of Beverley's History is indispensable."
--The Historian

"In this beautifully annotated edition, Susan Scott Parrish situates Robert Beverley thoroughly within his political and intellectual contexts, allowing readers full access to a text that is indispensable for understanding both early Virginia and creole perspectives on English empire."
--April Hatfield, Texas A&M University

"Beverley’s History offers an engaging tour of the intellectual horizons of Virginia’s planter elite at the dawn of the eighteenth century. Parrish's Introduction helps illuminate a landscape at once familiar and strange, a world of plants, animals, and peoples that fired the imagination of its readers both then and now."
--Timothy Shannon, Gettysburg College

"This edition provides grounds for the reassessment of an important but neglected account of nature and culture in colonial Virginia. Parrish's editing is meticulous, and her introduction draws widely on recent work in early American and transatlantic studies to locate the text within the emergent genre of the 'true history.'"
--Timothy Sweet, West Virginia University

"This new edition of Beverley's History is more than welcome. It has all of Beverley's own readability; you can almost hear him talk aloud. But now there are more generous notes and references to help open up his world (both English and non-English) not only to historians but to anthropologists and all sorts of other curious readers."
--Helen C. Rountree, Emerita, Old Dominion University