Narrative, of a five years' expedition,
John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative (1796) is a very complicated text. Published more than 20 years after the events, it tells the story of Stedman’s deployment to the Dutch-controlled colony of Surinam to suppress an armed Black revolt in 1772. He describes a wide spectrum of colonial society as well as Surinam’s natural environments, in a tone resembling earlier picaresque novels. Describing many scenes of cruelty of both slavery and military authority, one of the leading themes of the work is his romanticized relationship with Joanna, an enslaved woman and mother of his child Johnny. The 80 engravings in first edition were executed after Stedman’s drawings by the leading artists of the time. The work was reprinted upwards of twenty-five times in six languages, of which 12 are held at the JCB.