The Representations of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages (1590-1634)


This book deals with the De Bry collection of voyages, one of the most monumental publications of Early Modern Europe. It analyzes the textual and iconographic changes the De Bry publishing family made to travel accounts describing Asia, Africa and the New World. It discusses this editorial strategy in the context of the publishing industry around 1600, investigating the biography of the De Brys, the publications of the Frankfurt firm, and the making of the collection, as well as its reception by Iberian inquisitors and seventeenth-century readers across the Old World. The book draws on a wide variety of primary sources, and is hence important for historians, book historians, and art historians interested in the development of Europe's overseas empires.

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Michiel van Groesen, (1975) Ph.D. with honours in History, University of Amsterdam, is lecturer in American History and Early Modern History at this institution. He works on European representations of the overseas world, with particular interest for Dutch images of the Atlantic world.
“Michiel van Groesen has produced a key study not only for the De Bry collection of voyages, but also for the diffusion of the genre which gave new centrality to the European encounter with the newly explored worlds, both east and west.” Jean Michel Massing, King's College, University of Cambridge. In: Print Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4 (2013), pp. 437-440.

"a splendid work of scholarship of almost overwhelming erudition and richness of detail [...] dedicated and intelligent scholarship." Mary Baine Campbell, Brandeis University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 62, pp. 910-912 (Fall 2009)

"[this] thorough study deserves the attention of maritime historians [...] a well-written and adequately illustrated reference book on the reflection of sixteenth-century western discoveries in print, and their influence on the readership." W.F.J. Mörzer Bruyns, The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord, XVII (2009), pp. 372-3

"extraordinary in terms of its scholarship, its scope, and its achievements. [...] likely to have a significant and lasting influence on the study of travel compendia and of the representations of foreign encounters in the early modern world." Chloë Houston, University of Reading. In: Dutch Crossing, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp.96-96 (March 2010)

"a fine and hard-working study." Laurence Worms, London. In: Library & Information History, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 209-210 (September 2009)

"This well-crafted and highly readable book will be useful for those interested in the study of early modern readerships and publishing practices. It will also undoubtedly appeal to many cultural historians concerned with the construction of the European "gaze" and the ways in which it shaped/was shaped by predominant representations of the overseas world." Joel Konrad, McMaster University. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1 (2010), pp. 185-187.

“This volume opens a discussion of the image of the world at the eve of the Age of Exploration as well as the printed travel literature from those days. […] The Representations of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages is fascinating for a reader interested in the early modern prints or in the representations of the outside world based on the writings of contemporary writers. What I found especially inspiring were the fragments that point to the development and change in the public opinion of those times—discovery and colonization led to an expansion of the European consciousness about these unknown, new found lands.” Jakub Basista, Jagiellonian University, Kraków. In: Seventeenth-Century News Vol. 69, Nos. 3/4 (2011), pp. 183-186.

"Michiel van Groesen legt mit seiner Dissertation ein Werk vor, das neue Erkenntnisse und Anstöße bietet, die die künftige de Bry Forschung in jedem Fall wird berücksichtigen müssen. […] Mit seiner neuen Perspektive auf das Verlagshaus de Bry leistet van Groesen einen ebenso wichtigen Beitrag zur europäischen Buch- und Verlagsgeschichte wie zur Geschichte der frühen kolonialen Reisetextsammlungen." Susanna Burghartz, Universität Basel. In: Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2010), pp. 527-529.

"Van Groesen has produced a solid piece of work which exceeds the level of a monograph and may be considered a reference work."
Hubert Meeus in De Gulden Passer, Journal of Book History 2013-1, pp. 112-113

List of Illustrations


1. Opening up New Worlds: Sixteenth-Century Travel Literature and Collections of Voyages
2. From Goldsmiths to Publishers: The Transformation of the De Bry Family
3. A Prosperous Publishing House: The De Brys as Booksellers in Frankfurt and Oppenheim
4. The Making of the Collection of Voyages
5. Plants and Animals: The Natural World in the De Bry Collection
6. Native Inhabitants: Physical Appearances and Identities
7. From Gods to Idols: The Expansion of Heathendom
8. Different Representations for Different Readerships: Christianity Reflected
9. The Impact of Censorship: The Index Librorum Expurgatorum and other Indices
10. Selling, Purchasing, and Borrowing: Towards an Understanding of Readership
11. The Impact of the De Bry Collection: Travel Literature and Travel Compendia in the Seventeenth Century


1. Publications of the De Bry Firm
2. The Travel Accounts used for the De Bry Collection
3. The Origins of the Engravings in the De Bry Collection

Index of Personal Names
All those interested in the history of publishing c. 1600, the history of Europe's overseas expansion, the textual and iconographic contructions of the Other, and the Republic of Letters.
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