The most popular travel books
The countries which Gulliver visits are not real ones, but Jonathan Swift describe the appearance of the people, their kind of government, and their habits and manners in realistic detail. Scholars believe that Swift used two famous collections of travel stories when writing Gulliver’s Travels.
* Richard Hakluyt’s Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, published in 1600, describes the voyage of Sir Francis Drake around the world, Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyage to Venezuela, and John Davys’s Artic voyage.
* Samuel Purchas published his Purchas his Pilgrimes, containing a History of the world in Sea Voyages and Land Travell by Englishmen and others in 1625. This book has detail of voyages to India, China Japan and Africa, as well as a description of a voyage to Florida.
Sea voyages, and the discovery of new countries, were a very popular theme for 18th century writers. In fact, Swift’s contemporary, Daniel Defoe, wrote his very successful novel Robinson Crusoe in 1719. Defoe was also fascinated by idea of sea voyages, adventure and exploration. Like Lemuel Gulliver, Robinson Crusoe’s adventure begins when his ship sinks during a bad storm. Robinson is shipwrecked on a desert island where he must use his ingenuity and intelligence in order to survive.
This was a great age of geographical discovery, and there were, many expeditions exploring the sea and oceans of the world. There were stories of unknown continents in the Pacific Ocean, and of wonderful riches. Sailors brought back strange animals from their voyages, and some of them told fantastic tales about James Cook, who discovered Australia in 1770. His An account of a voyage round the World was published in 1773.