Memoirs on The Life and Travels of Thomas Hammond 1748–1775, edited by George Boulukos, will be published for the first time ever by the University of Virginia Press in 2017. Hammond, by turns a stable boy, jockey, servant to French nobles, European traveller, convert to Catholicism, itinerant circus rider, and entertainment entrepreneur, did all he could to educate himself and made a habit of seizing unlikely opportunities for adventure. He documents his Cambridgeshire childhood and his youthful travels through France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Hammond lavishly illustrated his Memoirs with his own amateur works and with line drawings commissioned from a professional artist. In this essay, Boulukos offers a few compelling samples of Hammond’s work, makes the case for the significance of Hammond’s text, and offers a brief account of the manuscript and its provenance. Boulukos reflects on the difficulty of introducing a previously unknown author from the eighteenth century, and on the challenges and rewards of editing and publishing such a significant manuscript discovery given today’s publishing climate.


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