Book Review – ‘To Auckland by the Ganges: The journal of a sea voyage to New Zealand in 1863’ by Robert M. Grogans

By Steve Mullins, published October 2020


Migration is an epic theme in the history of the British Empire, and has left in its considerable wake an extensive literature exploring the experiences of migrants to the Australasian colonies. The best books, among them Don Charwood’s wide-angled The Long Farewell (1981), Helen Woolcock’s Rights of Passage (1986), Jan Gothard’s Blue China (2001) and Robin Haines’s Life and Death in the Age of Sail (2003), draw extensively on voyage journals, hundreds of which survive in libraries and museums: Canterbury Museum alone holds nearly 200. There is also scholarly work exploring the social and personal context, and the circumstances of the production of the journals themselves, most notably by Andrew Hassam in Sailing to Australia (1994) and No Privacy for Writing (1995). This tells us that voyage journals come in a variety of forms. Many simply were strings of long letters that, because they could not be posted, were writtenup as journals on arrival. Few were the deeply private, contemplative diaries of today. Most were meant to be read by others – family left behind, family yet to come. And there were some journals, such as this one by David Buchanan, which was from its very beginning intended for publication, serialized twice weekly in the Glasgow Herald several months after the Ganges voyage ended….

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Filed under: Nineteenth Century | Pacific
Subjects include: Biography | Ocean Liners & Passenger Craft

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