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Portrait of Dr John Hawkesworth
, c.1770

by an unknown artist after Sir Joshua Reynolds

oil on canvas (frame: 92.0 cm x 80.0 cm, support: 77.0 cm x 64.0 cm)

John Hawkesworth (c. 1715–1773), writer and editor, compiled the first account of James Cook’s Endeavour voyage, although he had nothing to do with the voyage itself. The Admiralty did not publish official accounts of the voyages it funded. Instead, expedition journals and logs were handed to selected writers who found their own publishers and stockists. Hawkesworth was chosen to write the accounts of several expeditions, including Cook’s, in 1771. He struck a publishing deal with William Strahan and Thomas Cadell, securing £6000 plus 25 sets of the final work, the highest amount paid for a copyright in the eighteenth century. He then set to editing the journals of navigators Byron, Wallis and Carteret, whose accounts comprised a single book. The following two volumes, purporting to be Cook’s first-person narrative, were a mix of Cook’s, Joseph Banks’s and Daniel Solander’s journals with Hawkesworth’s own flourishes. The whole comprised the three-volume set An account of the voyages undertaken by the order of His Present Majesty for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere… drawn up from the journals which were kept by the several commanders and from the papers of Joseph Banks, Esq., published in 1773. Hawkesworth died soon afterwards. Cook’s own account remained unpublished until 1893, and John Cawte Beaglehole produced a new edition of Cook’s Endeavour journal in 1955.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2018
Accession number: 2018.19