Bibliography of early works on Africa

This growing bibliography had its origins as an exhibition, "Africa in Early Modern Times," presented at the Folger Shakespeare Library from June 15 to September 24, 1969.

The following entries of titles held in the Folger collection have some direct relation to Africa and the description of its inhabitants. Atlases, geographies, and general works concerning navigation, voyages, and travel that do not focus on Africa are not included.

Researchers are encouraged to use the link to the Hamnet record to search for other editions or translations of a given work or other works by that author /creator. Assistance in updating or adding relevant works is gratefully accepted.

Alpini, Prosper, 1553-1617, author.
Prosperi Alpini De plantis Aegypti liber: in quo non pauci, qui circa herbarum materiam irrepserunt, errores, deprehenduntur, quorum causa hactenus multa medicamenta ad vsum medicin[ae] admodum expetenda, plerisque medicorum, non sine artis iactura, occulta, atque obsoleta iacuerunt : accessit etiam liber de balsamo aliàs editus.
Venetijs: Apud Franciscum de Franciscis Senensem, MDXCII. [1592]
Folger call number: 245- 269q

The arrivall and intertainements of the embassador, Alkaid Jaurar Ben Abdella, with his associate, Mr. Robert Blake. : From the High and Mighty Prince, Mulley Mahamed Sheque, Emperor of Morocco, King of Fesse, and Suss. With the ambassadors good and applauded commendations of his royall and noble entertainments in the court and the city. Also a discription of some rites, customes, and lawes of those Affrican nations. Likewise Gods exceeding mercy, and our Kings especiall grace and favour manifested in the happy redemption of three hundred and two of his Majesties poore subjects, who had beene long in miserable slavery at Salley in Barbary.
London: Printed by I. Okes dwelling in little Saint Bartholmewes, 1637.
Folger call number: STC 18165

Best, George, -1584, author.
A true discourse of the late voyages of discouerie, for the finding of a passage to Cathaya, by the Northvveast, vnder the conduct of Martin Frobisher Generall : deuided into three bookes. In the first wherof is shewed, his first voyage ... Also, there are annexed certayne reasons, to proue all partes of the worlde habitable, with a generall mappe adioyned. In the second, is set out his second voyage ... In the thirde, is declared the strange fortunes which hapned in the third voyage ... VVith a particular card therevnto adioyned of Meta Incognita ...
At London: Imprinted by Henry Bynnyman, seruant to the right Honourable Sir Christopher Hatton Vizchamberlaine, Anno Domini. 1578 [Decembris. 10]
Folger call number: STC 1972

Boemus, Joannes, approximately 1485-1535, author.
[Omnium gentium mores. Book 1-2. English] The fardle of facions: conteining the aunciente maners, customes, and lawes, of the peoples enhabiting the two partes of the earth, called Affrike and Asie [sic].
Printed at London: By Ihon Kingstone, and Henry Sutton, 1555.
Folger call number: STC 3197 c. 1 & c. 2

Braithwaite, John, 1700?-1768?, author.
The history of the revolutions in the Empire of Morocco, upon the death of the late Emperor Muley Ishmael ; being a most exact journal of what happen’d in those parts in the last and part of the present year. ... Written by Captain Braithwaite, ... With a map of the country, engraven by Mr. Senex.
London: Printed for James and John Knapton, Arthur Bettesworth, Francis Fayram, John Osborn and Thomas Longman, and Charles Rivington, 1729.
Folger call number: DT321.B8 Cage

Cavazzi, Giovanni Antonio.
Istorico descrizione de’ tre’ regni Congo, Matamba, et Angola situati nell’ Ethiopia inferiore...
Bologna, 1687.

Charant, Antoine, author.
A letter, in answer to divers curious questions concerning the religion, manners, and customs, of the countrys of Muley Arxid, king of Tafiletta : also their trading to Tombotum for gold, and divers other remarkable particulars / by Mons. A.**** ... ; Englished out of French.
London: Printed by B.G., 1671.
Folger call number: 173827

Cirni, Antonfrancesco.
Successi dell’armata della m[aes]ta c[atoli]ca : destinata all’impresa di Tripoli di Barberia, della presa delle Gerbe, e progressi dell’armata turchesca / scritti per Anton Francesco Cirni ...
In Fiorenza: Appresso Lorenzo Torrentino, del mese di settembre 1560.
Folger call number: 188- 641q

Du Quesne, Abraham, approximately 1653-1724, author.
[Journal du voyage de Duquesne aux Indes Orientales. English] A new voyage to the East-Indies in the years 1690 and 1691. : Being a full description of the isles of Maldives, Cocos, Andamants, and the Isle of Ascention; and all the forts and garrisons now in possession of the French, with an account of the customs, manners, and habits of the Indians. By Monsieur Duquesne. To which is added, a new description of the Canary Islands, Cape Verd, Senegal and Gambia, &c. Illustrated with sculptures, together with a new map of the Indies, and another of the Canaries. Done into English from the Paris edition.
London: Printed for Daniel Dring at the Harrow and Crown near St. Dunstan’s Church in Fleetstreet, 1696.
Folger call number: 153- 642q

Eerste schip-vaert van de Hollanders naer Ost-Indien
Amsterdam: C.J. Saeghman, ca. 1663.

Greaves, John, 1602-1652, author.
Pyramidographia: or A description of the pyramids in Aegypt. : By Iohn Greaves, Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford.
London: Printed for George Badger, and are to be sold at his shop in St Dunstans Churchyard in Fleet-street, 1646.
Folger call number: 135- 311q

Hollar, Wenceslaus, 1607-1677, printmaker.
[Portrait of a young African woman] [graphic] / W. Hollar fecit Antuerpiae Ao 1645.
[Antwerp, Belgium?] : [s.n.], [1645?]
Folger call number: ART Vol. b35 no.46
Link to image

Hollar, Wenceslaus, 1607-1677, printmaker.
[Portrait of an African boy] [graphic] / [Wenceslaus Hollar].
Folger call number: ART 236- 023 (size XS)
Link to image

Jobson, Richard, active 1620-1623, author.
The golden trade: or, A discouery of the riuer Gambra, and the golden trade of the Aethiopians. : Also, the commerce with a great blacke merchant, called Buckor Sano, and his report of the houses couered with gold, and other strange obseruations for the good of our owne countrey; set downe as they were collected in trauelling, part of the yeares, 1620. and 1621. By Richard Iobson, Gentleman.
London: Printed by Nicholas Okes, and are to be sold by Nicholas Bourne, dwelling at the entrance of the Royall Exchange, 1623.
Folger call number: STC 14623

Knight, Francis, author.
A relation of seaven yeares slaverie under the Turkes of Argeire, suffered by an English captive merchant. : Wherein is also conteined all memorable passages, fights, and accidents, which happined in that citie, and at sea with their shippes and gallies during that time. Together with a description of the sufferings of the miserable captives under that mercilesse tyrannie. Whereunto is added a second booke conteining a discription of Argeire, with its originall, manner of government, increase, and present flourishing estate. By Francis Knight.
London: Printed by T. Cotes, for M[ichael]. S[parke]. Iunior, and are to be sold by Tho. Nicholes, in Popes Head Ally, 1640.
Folger call number: STC 15048a
Link to selected images

Kolb, Peter, 1675-1726, author.
[Caput Bonae Spei hodiernum. English] The present state of the Cape of Good-Hope : or, a particular account of the several nations of the Hottentots: ... Together with a short account of the Dutch settlement at the Cape. Written originally in High German, by Peter Kolben, ... Done into English ... by Mr. Medley. ...
London: Printed for W. Innys, 1731.
Folger call number: DT826.K6E6 1731 Cage and the Dutch version of 1719

Leo, Africanus, approximately 1492-approximately 1550, author.
[Della descrittione dell’ Affrica. Latin] Ioannis Leonis Africani De totius Africae descriptione libri IX : quibus non solum Africae regionum, insularum, & oppidorum situs, locorumqúe interualla accurratè complexus est, sed regum familias, bellorum causas & euentus resq[ue] in ea memorabiles tam à seipso diligenti obseruatione indagatas, quàm in veris Maurorum annalibus memoriae traditas, copiose descripsit / recens in Latinam linguam conuersi Ioanne Floriano interprete ; Arabicè primùm scripsit author, deinde Italico sermone reddidit, Ioannes Florianus ex Italico Latinum fecit ; his recens accedit Hannonis Carthaginensium ducis nauigatio, qua Libycam oram vltra Herculis columnas lustrauit, Conrado Gesnero interprete, cum scholijs.
Tiguri: Per Andream Gesnerum, F. anno MDLIX [1559]
Folger call number: DT7 .L5 1559 Cage

Linschoten, Jan Huygen van, 1563-1611, author.
[Itinerario. English] Iohn Huighen van Linschoten. his discours of voyages into ye Easte & West Indies. : Deuided into foure bookes.
Printed at London: By [John Windet for] Iohn Wolfe printer to ye Honorable Cittie of London, [1598]
Folger call number: STC 15691 c. 1, c. 2, & c. 3

Lobo, Jerónimo, 1596?-1678, author.
[Itinerário. Selections. English] A short relation of the river Nile: of its sourse and current; of its overflowing the campagnia of Aegypt, till it runs into the Mediterranean: and of other curiosities: written by an eye-witnesse, who lived many years in the chief kingdoms of the Abyssine empire.
London: Printed for John Martyn, printer to the Royal Society and are to be sold at the sign of the Bell without Temple Bar, 1669.
Folger call number: 142- 005q

Lopes, Duarte, author.
[Relatione del reame di Congo. English] A report of the kingdome of Congo, a region of Africa: And of the countries that border rounde about the same. 1. Wherein is also shewed, that the two zones torrida & frigida, are not onely habitable, but inhabited, and very temperate, contrary to the opinion of the old philosophers. 2. That the blacke colour which is in the skinnes of the Ethiopians and Negroes &c. proceedeth not from the sunne. 3. And that the Riuer Nilus springeth not out of the mountains of the Moone, as hath been heretofore beleeued: together with the true cause of the rising and increasing thereof. 4. Besides the description of diuers plants, fishes and beastes, that are found in those countries. Drawen out of the writinges and discourses of Odoardo Lopez a Portingall, by Philippo Pigafetta. Translated out of Italian by Abraham Hartwell.
London: Printed by Iohn Wolfe, 1597.
Folger call number: STC 16805 c. 1 & c. 2

Ludolf, Hiob, 1624-1704, author.
[Ethiopic], sive, Jobi Ludolfi I.C. Lexicon Aethiopico-Latinum: ex omnibus libris impressis, nonnullisque manuscriptis collectum, et cum docto quodam Aethiope relectum : accessit authoris Grammatica, cum aliis nonnullis, quorum catalogum sequens pagina exhibebit / nunc primùm in lucem editum, studio & curâ Johannis Michaelis Wanslebii Mathem. & Orient. LL. stud ; qui indicem Latinum, & appendicem operi addidit.
Londoni: Apud Thomam Roycroft, LL. Orientalium Typographum Regium, a.s. MDCLXI [1661]
Folger call number: 190- 161q

Ockley, Sebastian.
An account of South-west Barbary.
London: J. Bowyer, 1713

Ogilby, John, 1600-1676, author.
Africa: being an accurate description of the regions of Aegypt, Barbary, Lybia : and Billedulgerid, the land of Negroes, Guinee, Aethiopia, and the Abyssines, with all the adjacent islands, either in the Mediterranean, Atlantick, Southern, or Oriental Sea, belonging thereunto. With the several denominations of their coasts, harbors, creeks, rivers, lakes, cities, towns, castles, and villages. Their customs, modes, and manners, languages, religions, and inexhaustible treasure; with their governments and policy, variety of trade and barter, and also of their vvonderful plants, beasts, birds, and serpents. Collected and translated from most authentick authors, and augmented with later observations; illustrated with notes, and adorn’d with peculiar maps, and proper sculptures, by John Ogilby Esq; Master of His Majesties revels in the Kingdom of Ireland.
London: Printed by Tho. Johnson for the author, and are to be had at his house in White Fryers, M.DC.LXX. [1670]
Folger call number: 141- 503f

Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598, author.
[Theatrum orbis terrarum. English] Theatrum orbis terrarum Abrahami OrtelI Antuerp. geographi regii. = The theatre of the vvhole world: set forth by that excellent geographer Abraham Ortelius.
London: Printed by [the Officina Plantiniana and Eliot’s Court Press for] Iohn Norton [and John Bill], printer to the Kings most excellent Maiestie in Hebrew, Greeke, and Latine, 1606 [i.e. 1608?]
Folger call number: STC 18855 (flat)
Link to cover-to-cover digital capture
Link to image of Africa

Royal African Company of England.
The several declarations of the Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading into Africa, inviting all his Majesties native subjects in gen[e]ral to subscribe, and become sharers in their joynt-stock: Together with his royal highness James Duke of Yo[rk] and Albany, &c. and the rest of the said Royal Compa[ ] letter to the right honourable Francis Lord Willoug[ ] of Parham, &c. Intimating the said companies res[olu]tions to furnish his Majesties American plantations [ ] negroes at certain and moderate rates. As also a list of the Royal Adventurers of England [tra]ding into Africa.
[London]: [s.n.], Anno Dom. 1667.
Folger call number: 154- 787q

The State of the Trade to Africa : between 1680 and 1707, as well under the Management of an Exclusive Company, as under that of Separate Traders, Impartially considered, with Regard to Matter of Fact and Demonstration ; whereby it appears the Separate Adventurers have improv’d that Trade to the Benefit of Great-Britain at least One Million a Year.
[London], [1708?]
Folger call number: 265413 (folio)

There are around twenty sources in Hamnet relating to the Royal African Company, dated from the 1690's through about 1714.

A true account of the forts and castles belonging to the Royal African Company: upon the Gold Coast in Africa, with the number of men, and guns, the nature of the said forts and castles, and the guns planted on them, as taken from sundry persons very lately come from thence.
[London]: [s.n.], [1698?]
Folger call number: T2366.5

T. S., author.
The adventures of (Mr T.S.) : an English merchant, taken prisoner by the Turks of Argiers, and carried into the inland countries of Africa: with a description of the kingdom of of [sic] Argiers, of all the towns and places of note thereabouts. Whereunto is added a relation of the chief commodities of the countrey, and of the actions and manners of the people. Written first by the author, and fitted for the publick view by A. Roberts. Whereunto is annex’d an observation of the tide, and how to turn a ship out of the straights. mouth [sic] the wind being westerly; by Richard Norris.
London: Printed [by William Wilson], and are to be sold by Moses Pitt at the White Hart in Little Britain, 1670.
Folger call number: 158- 049q

Ulloa, Alfonse de.
Impressa de Tripoli di Barbaria
Venetia: M. Sessa, 1569

A voyage of the Sieur Le Maire to the Canary Islands, Cape-Verd, Senegal and Gamby, under Monsieur Dancourt, Director-General of the Royal African Company. : Printed at Paris this present year 1695. And now faithfully done into English.
London: Printed for F. Mills and W. Turner, at the Rose and C[r]own without Temple-Bar, 1696.
Folger call number: L1036A.5

Wansleben, Johann Michael, 1635-1679, author.
[Nouvelle relation en forme de journal, d’un voyage fait en Egypte. English] The present state of Egypt; or, A new relation of a late voyage into that kingdom: Performed in the years 1672. and 1673. By F. Vansleb, R.D. Wherein you have an exact and true account of many rare and wonderful particulars of that ancient kingdom. Englished by M.D. B.D.
London: Printed by R[obert]. E[veringham]. for John Starkey, at the Miter in Fleet-street, near Temple-Bar, 1678.
Folger call number: 147- 080q

Wansleben, Johann Michael, 1635-1679, author.
A brief account of the rebellions and bloudshed occasioned by the anti-Christian practices of the Jesuits and other popish emissaries in the empire of Ethiopia. : Collected out of a manuscript history written in Latin by Jo. Michael Wansleben, a learned papist.
London: Printed, and are to be sold by Jonathan Edwin, at the sign of the Three Roses in Ludgate-street, 1679.
Folger call number: 149- 491q

Wilkins, George, active 1607, author.
Three miseries of Barbary: plague. famine. ciuill warre. : With a relation of the death of Mahamet the late Emperour: and a briefe report of the now present wars betweene the three brothers.
[London]: Printed by W. I[aggard] for Henry Gosson, and are to be sold in Pater noster rowe at the signe of the Sunne, [1607]
Folger call number: STC 25639