John James Audubon's Journal of 1826


John James Audubon's Journal of 1826

The Voyage to The Birds of America

John James Audubon
Edited and with an introduction by Daniel Patterson
Patricio J. Serrano, Assistant Editor
Foreword by John R. Knott

536 pages
22 illustrations, 3 appendixes


July 2011


$50.00 Add to Cart

June 2017


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

July 2011


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

John James Audubon, an early American naturalist and painter, produced one of the greatest works of natural history and art of the nineteenth century, The Birds of America. As the record of the interior story of the making of this monumental work, his journal of 1826 is one of the richest documents in the history of American culture.
The first accurate transcription of Audubon’s 1826 journal, this edition corrects many of the errors, both intentional and unintentional, found in previous editions. Such errors have obscured the figure of Audubon as a man struggling to realize his professional and artistic dreams. When Audubon embarked for Liverpool from New Orleans in 1826, he carried with him more than 250 of his watercolor drawings in a heavy case, a packet of letters of introduction, and many a good reason to believe that he was a fool to be gambling his family’s fortunes on so risky and grandiose a venture. These journal entries, conveying with energy and emotion Audubon’s experience of risking everything on a dream—“Oh, America, Wife, Children and acquaintances, Farewell!”—document an American icon’s transformation from a beleaguered backwoods artist and naturalist to the man who would become America’s premier ornithologist, illustrator of birds, and nature essayist.

Author Bio

John James Audubon (1785–1851) is one of America’s premier wildlife artists. His monumental Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-sized prints, was published from 1826 to 1838 and is often considered the greatest picture book ever produced. Daniel Patterson is a professor of English at Central Michigan University. He is the author or editor of several books, including Early American Nature Writers: A Biographical Encyclopedia and Susan Fenimore Cooper's Essays on Nature and Landscape. Patricio J. Serrano is the director of the Applied Linguistic Career at Escuela Politécnica del Ejército in Quito, Ecuador. John R. Knott is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan and the author or editor of numerous works, including Imagining Wild America.


"Now, nearly 200 years later, Audubon is in fact "here, there and all over the Globe." And we are very lucky indeed to have a definitive transcription of the document that describes how that happened."—Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe

“Thanks to [this] new edition of the personal diary he kept during the voyage [to England], for the first time we are able to enter to some degree into Audubon’s thoughts and feelings during that stressful year [of 1826]”—Robert O. Paxton, New York Review of Books

"Patterson strives to be faithful to the original manuscript, preserving Audubon's original writing and style except where it would lead to misunderstanding. This fidelity allows Audubon's own voice to finally emerge and provides a fascinating look at his interests, drives, and opinions."—C.T. Brundy, Choice

“Audubon’s 1826 journal is one of the few surviving portions of his extensive journals, and a new, scholarly, and correct transcription is a welcome contribution and will become the standard for Audubon scholars and fans alike.”—Ron Tyler, director of the Amon Carter Museum and author of Audubon’s Great National Work: The Royal Octavo Edition of The Birds of America

“This volume is all the more important because it deals specifically with the creation of his masterpiece, Birds of America‚ one of the most cherished books ever produced. This edition corrects many of the errors found in earlier published versions.” – Library Journal

"The adventure would continue to unroll after Dec. 31, 1826, when this journal ends, but when Audubon signs off that night, he leaves us feeling that we have accompanied him in the achievement of a masterpiece."—James M. Keller, Pasatiempo

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
John R. Knott
Introduction: The History and Significance of Audubon's Journal of 1826
Editorial Principles and Procedures
List of Abbreviations and Symbols
1. Departure from Bayou Sara and New Orleans; Voyage to Liverpool
2. Liverpool
3. Manchester
4. Return to Liverpool
5. Return to Manchester and Travel to Matlock and Bakewell
6. Edinburgh
Appendix A: A Page from Audubon's 1828 Journal
Appendix B: Letters of Introduction Copied into the 1826 Journal
Appendix C: Front Matter in the Manuscript of the 1826 Journal
Textual Notes

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