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Watkin Tench (International) assertion Watkin Tench i(A19443 works by)
Born: Established: 1758 ; Died: Ceased: 1833
Gender: Male
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Watkin Tench was born at Chester, England, around 1758. Tench came as a marine captain with the First Fleet to Botany Bay and remained there for four years. He is remembered for his accounts of the early colony: A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay (1789), which ran to three editions and some foreign translations; and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales (1793). The language and literary conventions used in these accounts demonstrate Tench's attempt to be entertaining, but he gives a pessimistic view of the colony.

Most Referenced Works

Affiliation Notes

  • Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism:

    Watkin Tench was a Marine Corps officer with the First Fleet, aboard the ship ‘Charlotte’. Before leaving England, he made arrangements with Debrett’s of London to record his journey and first impressions of the colony for publication. He arrived in Sydney in 1788 and was a successful explorer in various expeditions. He wrote two narrative accounts, one about his journey to the new colony, and the other of his time in Australia.

    • A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, 1789, and 
    • A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales, 1793. 

    The first book was immensely popular and several editions were published in 1789 and later years including editions in French, German, Dutch and Swedish.

    An extract of his second book was published in the Perth Gazette and Western Australia Journal on September 3, 1836, to show how far the colony had come and inspire those residents who were ‘impatient of returns from small beginnings’. The four-page newspaper devoted two thirds of a page to the extract, explaining to readers the reason they had provided so much of their limited space was ‘as an incentive to exertion and steadiness of purpose, which, coupled with sobriety, is the main requisite to form a successful settler’.

    Tench’s books are considered significant for their vivid descriptions and literary style and are sometimes referred to as the first works of ‘Australian literature’. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography: ‘Watkin Tench was the first to mould Australian experience into a work of conscious art.’

Last amended 7 Feb 2018 10:18:04
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