A Generall Historie of Virginia, or, to give it its correct title, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: With the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from Their First Beginning, Ano: 1584. To This Present 1624. With the Procedings of Those Several Colonies and the Accidents That Befell Them in All Their Journyes and Discoveries. Also the Maps and Descriptions of All Those Countryes, Their Commodities, People, Government, Customes, and Religion Yet Knowne. Divided into Sixe Books, and I think we all need to take a quick breath now. Pause. Better? OK, moving on, by Captaine John Smith sometymes Governour in those Countryes and Admirall of New England, starts off with a fulsome dedication to the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox that even the most ardent aristocrat might find just a touch overdone. It then continues with a preface assuring us that kings are great, before continuing on with no less than ten (count them, I did) poems assuring us that author John Smith is one awesome, awesome guy.
Even by 17th-century standards, this is quite something; several editions of the Bible, Shakespeare and Spenser have more modest introductions. And if, reading this, your first thought was that Captain John Smith had just a few public relations issues and/or really, really really needed money, or both, you’d be right.