Skip to main content
Lines Drawn Across the Globe: Reading Richard Hakluyt’s “Principal Navigations” (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #90)

Lines Drawn Across the Globe: Reading Richard Hakluyt’s “Principal Navigations” (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #90)

Current price: $55.00
Publication Date: July 15th, 2023
McGill-Queen's University Press
The MIT Press Bookstore
1 on hand, as of Apr 23 10:14am
On Our Shelves Now


Around 1600, the English geographer and cleric Richard Hakluyt sought to honour his nation by publishing a compilation of every document he could find relating to its voyages and trade beyond the boundaries of Europe. The resulting collection of travel narratives, royal letters, ships’ logs, maps, lists, and commentaries was published as Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Spanning two thousand pages and documenting more than two hundred voyages, Principal Navigations is a window onto how the world appeared to England in 1600. Lines Drawn across the Globe unlocks Richard Hakluyt’s work for modern readers. Mary Fuller traces the history of the book’s compilation and gives order and meaning to its famously diverse contents. From Sierra Leone to Iceland, from Spanish narratives of New Mexico to French accounts of the Saint Lawrence and Portuguese accounts of China, Hakluyt’s shaping of this many-authored book provides a conceptual map of the world’s regions and of England’s real and imagined relations to them: exchange, alliance, aggression, extraction, translation, imitation – always depending on the needs of the moment. At the height of the British imperial project, Principal Navigations came to be seen and valued as a founding document of English national identity. It remains a crucial piece of evidence on the history of empire, the nation, and the world. Yet after a century and a half of modern scholarship, Hakluyt’s book needs to be disentangled from the perspectives of the nineteenth century and read anew. Lines Drawn across the Globe works across the scales of Hakluyt’s collection to deliver a dazzling account of an editorial project that was fundamental to England’s encounter with the world – and the nation’s idea of itself.

About the Author

Mary C. Fuller is professor of literature and faculty chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Praise for Lines Drawn Across the Globe: Reading Richard Hakluyt’s “Principal Navigations” (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #90)

“Lines Drawn across the Globe is a magisterial work many years in the making, a personal reading of Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations of the English Nation by a scholar of literature that deploys real expertise, and an indispensable analytical guide to a text whose size and diversity can be daunting. While Hakluyt is often interpreted in the context of the history of early English colonialism in the Atlantic, emphasizing long-term historical consequences and the mythology of New World exceptionalism, Fuller offers a more nuanced exploration of the book’s rich and varied contents.” Joan-Pau Rubiés, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

“Mary Fuller is one of the foremost scholars of early modern English travel writing, and Lines Drawn across the Globe is the result of a long career of nuanced assessment of writings on travel and encounter. Not just a textual study, this is also an investigation into early modern geography, European rivalries, and global expansion. It provides the most comprehensive guide to reading Hakluyt that is currently available.” Daniel Carey, University of Galway