The Life of George Bass, Surgeon and Sailor of the Enlightenment
Born in 1771 in Boston, England, George Bass served an apprenticeship as a surgeon and then joined the Royal Navy. Bass’s real passion was the sea, and by the age of twenty-four he was exploring Australia, both ashore and afloat, at every opportunity. A charismatic man, he had no trouble attracting volunteers to join him on these expeditions. He corresponded occasionally with Joseph Banks, sending him carefully recorded details of flora and fauna.
In 1799, having neither fortune nor influential patronage, he bought a small ship and branched out into commerce. About this time he married but, after only four months, he left his wife in England and sailed for Australia. His letters to his ‘Dear Bess’, brief and infrequent but loving, promised her she would be able to join him in his travels soon. This was never to be. Two and a half years later his ship disappeared in the Pacific. It was never discovered what befell the ship or its sailors.
As well as maps of the voyages and an excellent index, there are copious endnotes, an extensive bibliography, a glossary of terms no longer in common use, and a chronology of the main events of Bass’s life.