On this day in 1927, news about the discovery of Bowrey’s papers hit the press. This was the result of publicity about the publication of The Papers of Thomas Bowrey, 1669-1713 edited by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Richard Carnac Temple by the Hakluyt Society.
As the Birmingham Post reported: When a romantic discovery is announced we cock our ears from eternal human habit, but be prepared for the next sentence to bring our hopes, if not to the ground, at any rate down several pegs. … A fine old manor house (one that looks the part), a dark closet, an ancient leather-covered travelling chest, and inside it a mass of old papers, some of them stained with salt water – these are the authentic properties of a romantic literary find.
started their report: How excited most of us would be if we discovered a little room under the roof that no one knew about before. … In one corner there stood a curious old chest. It was a romantic moment. Would there be Spanish doubloons or emeralds from the newly-discovered land of Peru lying in that ancient coffer? Eagerly the old fastenings were undone, and to everyone’s disappointment nothing was seen but a bundle of old letters.
This second newspaper finished with: One of the most interesting things in the collection is proof that Damiel Defoe knew Bowrey and probably consulted him about the writing of Robinson Crusoe. This last speculation is very unlikely to be true although Bowrey did consult Defoe. However, Bowrey’s meetings with Defoe are far from the most interesting thing to be discovered in the papers as I hope these posts are demonstrating.