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Smith, John. (1580 - 1631).

L i f e

- typified the new American hero = tough, self-reliant, experienced, and struggling for the survival in the wilderness

- sailed from London to Jamestown: explored the surrounding territory, established trade relations with the natives, and drew up a map of Virginia

W o r k

- created the 1st genuine legend of Princess Pocahontas: Smith was captured by the Chesapeake Indians, brought to their chieftain Powhattan, and was about to be killed, but Pocahontas persuaded her father Powhattan to spare him

The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith:

- a brief autobigraphical account of his adventurous military career

A True Relation of Virginia (1608):

- his major work, the 1st text English written in the New World

A Description of New England (1616):

- practical information on travel, settlement, farming, costs, etc.

- promoted the colonisation: stressed the ‘incredible abundance’ of the New World

- the land = a means to well-being, liberty, and improved social status

Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere (1631):

- practical advice and theoretical suggestions on colonisation

- addressed to the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony


"Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation; were it fully manured and inhabited by industrious people. Here are mountaines, hills, plaines, valleyes, rivers, and brookes, all running most pleasantly into a faire Bay, compassed but for the mouth, with fruitfull and delightsome land".

John Smith's description of the countryside around Chesapeake Bay from A True Relation of Virginia (1608).


(Source: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Captain John Smith. (1580 - 1631). American colonist.
  • Work

    Soldier. Sailor. Explorer. Created the Princess Pocahontas legend.
  • Genres

    Travel writing. Instructive writing.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


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