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The Voyage of the Matthew

BBC Books (1997)

On 24 June 1497, John Cabot became the first European of his day to land on the continent of North America. Five hundred years later, a full-size replica of Cabot’s ship sailed from Bristol to mark the anniversary of this extraordinary but little known transatlantic voyage.

Part historic detective work and part celebration of the rebuilding of Cabot’s tiny ship, The Voyage of the Matthew is a beautifully illustrated record of this historic event. The book tells the full story of how the replica Matthew was designed and built, and also follows the early sea trials and preparations for the Atlantic crossing. The book also examines the historical background to Cabot’s voyages, from the early territorial discoveries made by sailors as diverse as the Irish monk St Brendan and the Norseman Eirik the Red.

John Cabot returned successfully from North America in 1497 to a grateful monarch – Henry VII of England – and a jubilant nation. His return voyage the following year was less successful and Cabot and his crew were never seen again. The book weaves meticulously researched facts with empirical evidence of Cabot's disappearance to present a shocking and surprising suggestion of how Cabot and his ships disappeared.

View The Voyage of Matthew ... pages 11-13 Voyage of Matthew - new Voyage of Matthew - old

The Voyage of the Matthew: John Cabot and the discovery of America

"… Firstbrook's highly readable and wonderfully illustrated and historically detailed book … an enjoyable read."
David Sorensen, The Express.

"… an excellent overview of Cabot's life, his famous voyage, and what drove 15th-century explorers to take the chances they did."
Murray Oxby, Canadian Press.

"… much more than a coffee table book. Drawing on recent scholarship and newly discovered documents, Firstbrook details with infectious interest the social and political context within which the Matthew, arguably the most important ship in English history, was created."
Alex Pugsley, ON magazine.

"… informative, entertaining and visually beautiful … a compelling read."
Blair Chafe, The Telegram.

"… will entertain and delight readers on both sides of the Atlantic."
Kathy Dicks, The Newfoundland Herald.