Falconer, William Books

Critical Edition of the Poetical Works of William Falconer
2003 0-7734-6766-1
This is the first ever scholarly edition of Falconer’s poetry. After an account of Falconer’s life and reputation, this study concentrates on Falconer’s masterwork, The Shipwreck, an autobiographical narrative of a disastrous shipwreck in 1749, of which Falconer was one of three survivors. The poem is unique in its autobiographical/narrative/didactic/epic character. The poem survives in three distinct and much modified versions. The parallel text format of this edition facilitates line by line comparison of the editions and presents the progress of Falconer’s self-taught development as a poet, and how he adapts to fashionable taste of the time. The Shipwreck is of interest to scholars of other disciplines. Its explicit intention of being an improving work for seafarers links it closely with Falconer’s other major publication The Dictionary of the Marine which became the standard work. The Shipwreck’s many detailed accounts of sailing ship handling and navigation in the mid-18th century make it a valuable source for maritime historians. The study also examines some of Falconer’s other minor poetry.