The Survay or Topographical Description of France: With a new Mappe, helping greatly for the Surveying of every particular Country, Cittye, Fortresse, River, Mountaine, and Forrest therein: Collected […]. John Eliot.
The Survay or Topographical Description of France: With a new Mappe, helping greatly for the Surveying of every particular Country, Cittye, Fortresse, River, Mountaine, and Forrest therein: Collected […].
The First English Description of France

The Survay or Topographical Description of France: With a new Mappe, helping greatly for the Surveying of every particular Country, Cittye, Fortresse, River, Mountaine, and Forrest therein: Collected […].

London: Imprinted by John Wolfe and are to bee sold at his shop at Poules chayne, 1592. First edition. Woodcut device on the title page. Woodcut initials, head and tailpieces throughout. In later blind-tooled calf. Spine gilt, with title vignettes. Marbled endpapers. Tinted edges. 4º: A2–4, B–O4; [6], 103, [1] p. Slightly over-trimmed. Ownership stamps on the title page (Thos. Tulloch). Title page restored, with a tiny loss of a letter. A3 restored. Two small wormholes at the top of the leaves affect the first three quires. Lacks the first blank leaf and the folded map as many known copies. Binding rubbed at extremities. Overall in good condition.

The first description of France written by an Englishman published in Great Britain.

The Survay or Topographical Description of France is the earliest piece of English travel literature, devoted entirely to France, written by a Brit, and printed in Great Britain. It provides a short topographical description of the regions of France, and amended with a “recapitulation” of the major administrative communities of each region. The preface includes a detail of Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas’ epic poem The Semaines, which is the first printed English translations of this masterpiece of French Renaissance literature. (Snyder, p. 71.)

John Eliot was born in Warwickshire in about 1562. Spent some time at the Brasenose College, reckoned among the University Wits. Subsequently, during the 1580s, he roamed in France, Italy, and perhaps in Spain. In France, he spent three years in the College of Montagu at Paris, taught in the Collège des Africains at Orleans, lived in Lyon, became a novice for monkhood, but he was released without taking his vows. During his stay in the country, Eliot became acquainted with French literature, the works of Marot, Ronsard, Du Bartas, and of Rabelais who he admired the most. Eliot was also involved in the French politics probably as a secret agent, and after the assassination of Henry III in 1589 he returned to England. During the next four years, he taught French in London and translated political tracts for John Wolfe the bookseller who specialized in French affairs. Wolf published Eliot’s own works too, the Ortho-epia Gallica: Eliots fruits for the French (1593), a series of dialogues on contemporary life and manners, written in colloquial French with English rendering on the opposite page, and the present book, The Survay or Topographical Description of France in 1592. Nothing is know about his life after 1593.

Eliot and Shakespeare were not just contemporaries and fellow “landsmen” coming from Warwickshire, but it is presumed that they knew each other personally. Literary historians demonstrated the influence of Eliot’s Ortho-epia Gallica on Shakespeare’s work included Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and Henry IV. Another interesting link between the two authors is related to the first recorded acquisition of Shakespeare’s first printed work. In his diary entry on Tuesday, June 12, 1593, Richard Stonley (c. 1520–1600), a government accountant, recorded the purchase of two books: the Venus and Adonis and a copy of Eliot’s Survey for twelve pence.

Ref.: STC 7575; USTC 512118; Cox I. p. 94.

Bibl.: Bideaux, M.: Voyageurs anglais en France (1590–1610). In: Bulletin de l'Association d'étude sur l'humanisme, la réforme et la renaissance, No. 60., 2005. pp. 75-87pp. 75–87.; Lambley, K. R.: The Teaching and Cultivation of the French language in England During Tudor and Stuart times. Manchester: The University Press, 1920.; Lever, J. W.: Shakespeare’s French Fruits. In: Allardyce, N. (ed.): Shakespeare Survey, Volume 6. Cambridge: University Press, 1953. pp. 79–90.; Snyder, S.: The Divine Weeks and Works of Guillaume de Saluste, Sieur Du Bartas. Vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.; Warren, J. C.: Stonley’s Diary: First Recorded Purchase of Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare’s First Printed Work. Retrieved on 2019, August 5 from https://shakespearedocumented.folger.edu/exhibition/document/stonley-s-diary-first-recorded-purchase-venus-and-adonis-shakespeare-s-first 

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Price: €25,000.00

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