Magazine article Geographical

The First English Explorer

Magazine article Geographical

The First English Explorer

Article excerpt

THE FIRST ENGLISH EXPLORER

by Kit Mayers; Matador; 14.99 [pounds sterling] (paperback)

Kit Mayers offers a lively account of Anthony Jenkinson, the daring adventurer who headed off to Russia in 1557 with dreams of travelling all the way to the fabled riches of Cathay. It's a little odd, though, to see Jenkinson described as 'the earliest of all the English explorers.' Apparently, by Mayers' reckoning, none of the Englishmen who had visited far-flung climes during earlier decades and centuries qualify for the title: 'None of these voyages were exploration as all these routes had been pioneered by other nations.' That seems like a narrow and rather harsh definition.

Still, Jenkinson's tale Is well worth the telling and Mayers' account, while relying on predictable sources, is enhanced by the fact that he has followed In the

Tudor's footsteps. The book efficiently explains the causes behind Jenkinson's Odysseys (chiefly the desire of England's newly founded Muscovy Company to seek out new markets) and it's great fun to read about Jenkinson sailing down the Volga, traversing the Caspian Sea, and trudging through the Kara Kum desert all the way to Bukhara. …

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