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ADAMS, Robert.

The Narrative of Robert Adams, A Sailor, who was wrecked on the Western coast of Africa,

in the Year of 1810, was detained three years in slavery by The Arabs of the Great Desert, and resided several months in the city of Tombuctoo.

London: John Murray, 1816 Stock Code: 128965
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First edition. The text, edited by Simon Cock, secretary to the committee of the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa, purports to be the account of an American sailor taken captive on the Barbary Coast and taken to Timbuktu. Cock found Adams, born in New York state to a white father and African American mother, begging on the streets of London; he claimed to have returned from years of slavery in Africa and to have spent time in the quasi-mythical city of Timbuktu. Cock was eventually convinced of the veracity of his tale and arranged for its publication.

Since first publication, the book has been subject to heated debate. Although most people accept Adams's tale of captivity, many have alleged that his description of Timbuktu is a fabrication. A recent critical edition of the book claims that it is "wrong in nearly every detail" and that he "almost certainly" never went to the famous city (Adams, p. xx). There is also a suggestion that Cock, a former agent for slave traders, was using this book to revive his own reputation and that of his African Company.

The Narrative was the inspiration for Anglo-Afghan author Tahir Shah's novel Timbuctoo (2012).

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Quarto (266 x 209 mm). Contemporary full calf, marbled edges, plain endpapers. Bookseller's ticket of Martin Keene, Dublin and contemporary bookplate of Charles Arthur Tisdall to the front pastedown.


Folding map frontispiece.


Spine slightly toned, bumps and rubbing to extremities, partially split at top of front board, small close tear at map stub, slight foxing to map and end papers and light browning to text block. A very good copy.


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