Since my last update, I have completed the first draft and first edit of my chapter on Bowrey’s first decade in the East Indies. It came out at around 5,750 words. As someone new to writing, one of the most surprising aspects has been the way each chapter I have written has ended up about the same number of words. Before I started writing I did a little research and came up with the range of four to six thousand words for a chapter. As if by magic, all my chapters have been within this range.
During the period 1669-1679, the only source for the details of Bowrey’s life is his book, A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, edited by Richard Carnac Temple and published in 1905. How the manuscript of this book passed into the Eliot-Howard family remains a mystery although one of the family’s ancestors, Peter Briggins, knew Bowrey towards the end of his life. The fact it survived and Temple was willing to take on the work of editing it is one of the happy accidents of history.
The manuscript was never intended as a biography. Even so, there is no explanation for why it covers only the first decade of Bowrey’s life in the East Indies. The text has been studied widely since it was published – throughout the century it has been in print and worldwide – but no one, since Carnac, has used it to look closely at Bowrey’s life. Having spent some time doing this, I now believe that I understand what changed in 1679/80.
The 1669-1679 draft chapter has now been put aside for a week while I start the next chapter of Bowrey’s life in India. When the week has passed, I will review and rework it before asking for my husband’s feedback.