Novel Heroes: Domesticating the British, Eighteenth-Century Male Adventurer

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In the "General Introduction" of his Account of the Voyages and Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere (1773), John Hawkesworth writes that Captain James Cook's portion of the Account is written up from logs kept by the Captain, Sir Joseph Banks, and from "other papers equally authentic." Hawkesworth makes a more surprising admission in revealing that his relation of Cook's Account was influenced, specifically, by Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740), and so Richardson's domestic heroine becomes a model for the greatest male adventurer of the age. Hawkesworth's inclination to lean upon a literary model in his effort to textually "domesticate" his rendition of Captain Cook is not as unusual as the editor's open admission of intent and his candid citing of the Pamela source. This project rests upon the assertion that there is far less division between the travel log and the novel than previously argued, and that the writers of period travel narratives drew upon the same themes and used the same aesthetic strategies that novelists deployed. Further, it is my contention that this aesthetic formulation--this peculiar brand of domestic heroism borrowed from period novels and their heroines that is appropriated by the constructed male adventurer and enables him to separate and preserve himself from all external savagery--is a formulation that appears repeatedly in eighteenth-century travel literature.

First, I will define "domestic" and describe the masculine variety of "domestic heroism" or "oeconomy" that is being appropriated by male adventurers. In the first two chapters, I will trace the dichotomy of the successful "domestic housewife" or "oeconomic" hero versus the undomesticated anti-hero through a set of examples: Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (versus Swift's Gulliver) and Hawkesworth's Richardsonian Captain Cook (versus Bligh). In the third chapter, I will demonstrate that Mungo Park constructs himself as a deeply vulnerable, gothic, Ann Radcliffe heroine in his Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa. In the final chapter, looking primarily at Dibdin's fictional Hannah Hewit; or, The Female Crusoe, I will argue that since the successful male adventurer must possess both female and male attributes, no room is left for the adventuring woman.