Ships, Logs, and Voyages: Maria Graham Navigates the Journey of H.M.S. Blonde

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2010-05

Authors

Skinner, Kathleen L.

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Abstract

Recent studies in women’s travel writing have focused on domesticity—a woman writer’s access and awareness of traditionally gender-coded topics such as family and femininity, subjects heretofore ignored or misrepresented in the journals of men. However, these studies have not often addressed the question, how did contemporary women travel writers react to these misrepresentations? Furthermore, were their responses similarly confined to the domestic? Ships, Logs, and Voyages analyzes the narrative techniques of Maria Graham, unacknowledged author of Voyage of H.M.S Blonde to the Sandwich Islands. Graham’s unusual position as ghostwriter for the “official” account of Blonde’s voyage provides a unique opportunity to juxtapose her narrative style against those of her primary sources and several other accounts of the voyage published subsequently. When editing the official account, Graham corrects the text to locate the agency of indigenous Hawaiian women in the cultural conversion taking place in early nineteenth- century Hawai‘i. A variety of factors may well have influenced Graham’s representational choices, but Graham’s work on the Blonde suggests that women writers could and did purposefully reinterpret what their male contemporaries reported as fact.

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