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The Dividing Line Histories of William Byrd II of Westover

Edited by Kevin Joel Berland

Publication Year: 2013

After his 1728 Virginia-North Carolina boundary expedition, Virginia planter and politician William Byrd II composed two very different accounts of his adventures. The Secret History of the Line was written for private circulation, offering tales of scandalous behavior and political misconduct, peppered with rakish humor and personal satire. The History of the Dividing Line, continually revised by Byrd for decades after the expedition, was intended for the London literary market, though not published in his lifetime. Collating all extant manuscripts, Kevin Joel Berland's landmark scholarly edition of these two histories provides wide-ranging historical and cultural contexts for both, helping to recreate the social and intellectual ethos of Byrd and his time.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-xii


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pp. xiii-xiii


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pp. xiv-xiv

Abbreviations and Short Titles

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pp. xv-2

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pp. 3-42

The most succinct biographical sketch of William Byrd is his epitaph. At the junction of two paths in the gardens of Westover, the fine Georgian house he built on the banks of the James River, his monument still stands, bearing this summation of what was especially memorable about his life:...

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Textual History

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pp. 43-56

The Dividing Line histories have passed down to posterity in several manuscript forms: there remain only one nearly complete copy of the Secret History of the Line and two of The History of the Dividing Line. Several fragments also remain, useful for filling in missing parts and providing evidence of Byrd’s revisions....

Editorial Matters

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pp. 57-64

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The History of the Dividing Linebetwixt Virginia and North CarolinaRun in the Year of Our Lord 1728.

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pp. 65-342

Before I enter upon the Journal of the Line between Virginia and North Carolina, it will be necessary to clear the way to it, by shewing, how the other British Colonies on the main, have one after another, been carved out of Virginia, by Grants from his Majesty’s Royal Predecessors. All that part of the...

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The Secret History of the Line

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pp. 343-460

Byrd’s Secret History of the Line blends seemingly incongruous elements: accurate transcriptions of official letters, grave reflections on current events, comic anecdotes, scandalous revelations, and a pervasively libertine tone. Still, a degree of seriousness may be discerned in Byrd’s approach, despite all the levity, ribaldry...

Appendix 1: Dramatis Personae

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pp. 461-474

Appendix 2: Bibliographical Notes

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pp. 475-480

Bibliography of Works by William Byrd II

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pp. 481-484


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pp. 485-508

E-ISBN-13: 9781469608273
E-ISBN-10: 1469608278
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469606934
Print-ISBN-10: 1469606933

Page Count: 528
Illustrations: 12 halftones, 1 map, 1 chart
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia
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OCLC Number: 879306185
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Dividing Line Histories of William Byrd II of Westover

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Virginia -- Boundaries -- North Carolina.
  • North Carolina -- Boundaries -- Virginia.
  • Virginia -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
  • North Carolina -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
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