A Collection of Travels Thro' Various Parts of the World...Containing an Accurate Account of the Religion, Laws, Manners, Commerce, and Constitution of Many Different Nations (in 2 vols.)
London: John Wilkie, 1762.
London: John Wilkie, 1762. First edition. With title page of volume II erroneously dated MDCCXII as called for by ESTC. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, measuring 168 x 100mm and collating complete: , 338; , 324. A square copy with joints professionally renewed; some chipping to spine labels and gentle shelfwear to boards. Faint dampstaining to lower corner of contents in volume I and paper loss to upper corner of pages 203-204 affecting 9 lines each. Volume II overall clean, with long archivally reinforced tear to pages 131-132 and paper loss to lower corner of pages 171-172 with no text loss in either case. An exceptionally scarce fantastical travel narrative with erotic content, published by notorious Grub Street writer and demi-monde ally Samuel Derrick. ESTC locates only three copies at institutions (BL, Columbia, and UCLA) and of the three copies to appear in the modern auction record, the most recent was in 1941. The present is the only example on the market.
In a 1763 review in The Critical Review or Annals of Literature (vol. 15), Samuel Derrick's Collection of Travels is derided as a book for "those who read merely for amusement, and care not for turning up the huge collection of voyages traveled by Purchas, Churchill, Astley, Harris &c" due to its "total neglect of dates, total want of maps, a strange perversion of names, a general lack of precision or accuracy." These same reviewers make a dismissive nod to how "the adventures of captain John Smith savour strongly of romance" and suggest that the work "does not seem to have been intended so much for serious reading as for pleasing the imagination," but they fail to grasp just how much this is the case. No matter how deeply Samuel Derrick sought to portray himself as a participant in London's intelligentsia, he was ultimately a Grub Street hack who "wrote to eat" and not from "any great artistic urge" (Rubenhold). Having learned early on that "hacks and whores shared much common ground," Derrick became not only a "gentleman defender" and friend to several of London's demi-monde, he also used their escapades as inspiration for his writing and his writing to promote their reputations and services.
Such is the case with the present work, designed for stoking the reader's fantasies and for lining the author and publisher's pockets. Among "the period's richest funds of data, erotica and pornography permeated the culture...and the 18th century bookshop" (Pettit and Spedding). Works operating under the thin guises of travel, law, medicine, politics, history, or religion presented readers across genders with graphic depictions not only of cis-gendered and heterosexual encounters but even more often with scenes that cenered queer, polyamorous, and female pleasure. In the case of Collection of Travels, Derrick used preexisting popular travel narratives as the backdrop for his main work: depicting sexual behaviors common within London's sex trade but setting them within exotic locales. Within volume I, for example, his explorers encounter "the prostitution of the women of Camul, and their hospitable reception of strangers," "the common use of women" in Thebet, rites of "marriages of the people of Servia," and the "wives and concubines" of Constantinople including how they are valued, how virginity is tried, and how they are punished. The second volume builds on this, including such content as the "courtezans of Persia," the "women lewd" of Turkey, and "the usage of their wives" in Algiers. Given his own appreciation for the power of the sex workers in his own life -- notably Lucy Cooper, Kitty Fisher, and Charlotte Hayes -- he also includes a section on "the authority of the women in this country" of the Congo.
One of Derrick's few stand-alone, multi-volume works to be published, and a rarity in the collecting areas of erotic literature and travel fiction.
ESTC T135777. Not in the Register of Erotic Books. (Item #5478)