Florida Museum of Natural History

William Bartram

Literary Influence

Six European editions in different languages followed the first edition of Bartram's Travels in 1791. These translations established Bartram's reputation at no monetary benefit to him. European readers were particularly fascinated by his picturesque descriptions of sub-tropical America and its native Indians. Bartram's book is still in print on both sides of the Atlantic.

The English poet, William Wordsworth read Bartram's Travels as he traveled Germany and used Bartram's words. For example, Wordsworth'ss poem "Ruth" describes "a youth from Georgia's shore" who attempts to woo a maiden with flowery sayings derived from Bartram's botany.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge relied upon the rich natural history details of the Travels for parts of the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Coleridge's famous "Kubla Khan" contains images from part two of Bartram's Travels.

Bartram's Travels established the importance of the American landscape as an alternative to the European Grand Tour. Readers of the Travels should remember that the book is not a strictly kept scientific journal, but a narrative of Bartram's remarkable memories, his lasting contribution to the American intellectual tradition.

Unless otherwise noted, William Bartram's drawings are housed at the British Museum (Natural History), London, UK