Hakluyt's Promise, By Peter C Mancall

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The Independent Culture

An on-your-bike precursor of Norman Tebbit, the Elizabethan academic and cleric Richard Hakluyt wrote influential works urging his fellow countrymen towards the New World. He was astonished that the English had not yet "set fast footing in such fertill and temperate places, as are yet unpossessed... of Spaniardes and Portingales".

Unfortunately, his works are just about all we know of the enigmatic Hakluyt. This lack of fact prompts Mancall to bulk out his account with what journalists call "colour". One reviewer criticised him for "narrative Polyfilla".

Another said he "does not describe college life [at Oxford] generically". The result is a readable account of the birth of English colonialism.