Beverly, Robert (Writer)

 (1673-1722) historian

Robert Beverly is remembered for his history of the state of Virginia, The History and Present State of Virginia … by a Native of the Place, first published in 1705. In contrast to the common patronizing tone in reference to the colonies that characterized British writings of the time, the work is distinguished from other early American books by an original style that does not attempt to duplicate an Oxford literary manner. The 1705 edition of The History is noted for its humor and acerbic sarcasm, particularly in its criticism of royal governors and lack of enterprise among Virginia planters.

Although the historical material for the early years of the colony largely derives from the earlier published accounts of Captain John Smith and other chroniclers, the sections dealing with the Indians are considered to be of particular importance to history. Beverly links the freedom of the New World with the original Native American inhabitants.

In 1722 Beverly published a second edition of The History, considered to be less colorful and critical than the first edition. Along with the second edition, Beverly published The Abridgement of the Public Laws of Virginia, a work that he had compiled for his own use as a working magistrate.

The History is considered to be one of the major achievements of early American prose. Beverly’s keen insight into contemporary political and social matters provides a valuable contribution to the study of American history.

A Work about Robert Beverly

Literary History of the United States: History, vol. 1, 3rd ed., rev. Edited by Robert E. Spiller, et al. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

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