In 1585, John White led the third Raleigh-financed voyage to Roanoke Island; in a venture planned by Sir Walter Raleigh known as the failed colony of Roanoke. The city of Raleigh located in Central North Carolina, is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who actually never set his foot there. He however “encouraged the settlement of North Carolina, and played a great role in popularizing the New World’s potatoes and tobacco in England and Ireland” (Bry 1). John White documented his trip with watercolor images of the native people he encountered and some of the scenes and material goods of their lives so that when he returned to England he could show what he had seen. A publisher by the name Theodore De Bry later on made engravings of some of White’s pictures to be included in Harriot’s book.
This paper will analyze the changes made on White’s work by Bry, underlying reasons and recommendations for the changes.
John white painted a “bird’s eye view of an Algonkian village, located between the present Lake Landing and Wyesocking Bay, on his 1585 visit to the Carolina coast,” (Hulton and Quinn 1964) however, Theodore De Bry, engraved a plate known as ‘The arrival of the Englishmen in Virginia’ which represents the map of North Carolina oriented to the west. Indeed, according to Hulton and Quinn (1964) the map shows “part of Pamlico Sound, Roanoke Island, the mouth of Albemarle Sound and the Alligator River, and part of Currituck Sound with the Carolina Outer Banks, divided into six islands.”
The following are the important variations between Theodore de Bry engraving and drawing by john white. Primarily, work of Bry has some significant changes to what White had made, with the rear entrance to the palisade being omitted, enlarged poles and a hexagonal ground plan for the house that had cupola. In addition, although he did not quite make significant variations on occupation capacity, Bry found it proper to draw a trees background as well as drawing cornfield, and sunflower and a small pond to the left and right of the picture respectively. Moreover, the drawing of the Indians differ as Bry decided to present two of them drawing water “using hemispherical vessels with loop handles,” while the engravement also includes a ridge in the foreground with plants growing on it (Hulton and Quinn 1964)
De Bry wanted to relate his engraving more closely to the lost variant from which White made his drawing. At the publishing time, De Bry could have made some changes by comparing B.
Sloane copy plate 81 with that of John White. Before publication, De Bry could have read the history of Algonkian village, which may have influenced his choice of variations. According to the descriptions given by most of the people who wrote about Carolina Algonkians, the poles drawn by White were approximately correct but they were too widely spaced. According to a reference house at Roanoak with five rooms, white shows nothing comparable (Deak and Birmingham Public Library 1992).
John White drew a picture of a woman standing to the front facing half right, and on her left there is a child facing half left. She is in an apron skirt of fringed skin, long hair caught at the nape of her neck, a headband, a bead necklace on her neck and on her waist where her right hand is thrust, some painted or tattooed decorations on her forehead, chick, chin, and upper arms, and a large bottle-guard shaped vessel on her left hand. Her height just at the woman’s waist, the girl dons a necklace, “a tongue like pendant on her right hand, a thong and a doll on her left hand” (Hulton and Quinn 1964).
In De Bry engraving, certain variations made include presenting the woman with her right foot just in front of her left foot while the girl is running towards the left holding a doll on her left hand. The difference with White’s drawing is that the girl is stationary at the left side of the woman – not running (Hulton and Quinn 1964). Moreover, Bry made other changes by removing the headband from the woman and changing the location of tattoo marks from the chin to the calves in addition to adding an extra string to the girl’s necklace and removing a pendant from the same. The Reasons De Bry Might Have Had for Making those Changes During his time of publishing, Theodore De Bry had at his exposure the narrative by Thomas Harriot and the drawing by John White thus he made some changes from the narrative through comparison. He might have made some changes from the history of the place from other sources or from its museums and archives.
The modifications made by De Bry in his engravings gives the reader a broader view of the history of Algonkian village in North Carolina. One tends to assume that De Bry had done enough research before he published Harriot’s book meaning that he was trying to perfect White’s drawings.
Bry, Theodore D. John White’s attempt to rescue the Roanoke colonists. N.d. 16 October 2010.
http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/amerbegin/exploration/text6/white.pdf Deak, Gloria-Gilda and Birmingham Public Library. Discovering America’s Southeast: a sixteenth century view based on the mannerist engravings of Theodore de Bry.
Birmingham, Birmingham Public Library Press. 1992 Hulton, Paul and Quinn, David B. American Drawings of John White.1964.16 October 2010.