After the Bounty


After the Bounty

A Sailor's Account of the Mutiny, and Life in the South Seas

James Morrison
Edited and Annotated by Donald A. Maxton

286 pages


November 2022


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November 2009


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eBook (PDF)
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September 2011


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About the Book

In 1787 the Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty, captained by William Bligh, set sail for Tahiti in search of breadfruit plants. Soon after leaving Tahiti, Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian led a successful revolt, setting Bligh and eighteen of his men adrift. In his journal, Boatswain’s Mate James Morrison recounts the Bounty’s voyage, placing considerable blame for the mutiny on Bligh’s irascible personality and style of command.

This event, however, only introduces Morrison’s remarkable journey through the South Seas. A born storyteller, Morrison pens compelling tales of the time after the mutiny, beginning with ringleader Fletcher Christian’s two ill-fated attempts to establish a refuge on the island of Tubuai. Morrison then recounts his eighteen-month sojourn on Tahiti, where he constructed a seaworthy schooner and closely observed the island and its way of life. He tells of the subsequent arrival of HMS Pandora, which was charged with bringing the mutineers back to England for trial, and his imprisonment in the horrific “Pandora’s Box.” Morrison once again faces peril when the Pandora sinks on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where thirty-one of the crew and four prisoners perished.

Although Morrison did not actively participate in the Bounty insurrection, he had remained with Fletcher Christian’s party, which was enough evidence for his eventual condemnation. While imprisoned, Morrison began composing his journal. King George III granted a pardon, and soon after his release, Morrison wrote the second half of the journal, which he filled with detailed descriptions of Tahitian life, culture, and natural history. Morrison’s journal is an invaluable resource for naval and cultural historians and an enthralling tale for the general reader.

Author Bio

Donald A. Maxton worked in the field of corporate communications and public affairs for thirty-five years. He is the author of The Mutiny on H.M.S. Bounty: A Guide to Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, Films, Articles, and Music and Chasing the Bounty: The Voyages of Pandora and Matavy. He lives in New York City.


“For anyone interested in the Bounty saga, this volume is a most worthwhile addition to the extant nonfiction reading currently available.”—Sea History

“[This book] can be expected to add richly and pervasively to general knowledge of that historically and historiographically conspicuous incident.”—Mariner’s Mirror

“Editor Maxton . . . has done an excellent job in preparing Morrison’s works for publication, and supplemented them with a valuable commentary, which makes After the Bounty a good read for anyone interested in life at sea in the age of sail or the history and culture of the South Seas.”—

“It’s a curiously, entertaining and instructive for age-of-fighting-sail or Herman Melville enthusiasts.”—Naval Review


After the Bounty makes a most important contribution to the literature of the Bounty saga. Through its publication, Morrison’s enlightening account of the Bounty mutiny becomes available to the general public for the first time in three quarters of a century. This book is a ‘must have’ for any Bounty literature library.”—Herbert Ford, director, Pitcairn Islands Study Center

“[Morrison’s] stories of adventure after the Bounty mutiny makes for a powerful historical journal packed with nautical adventure and perfect for any nautical history library.”—Midwest Book Review

“What a monumental undertaking! Donald Maxton’s passion and perseverance in pursuing his goal is topped only by his impeccable scholarship and thorough knowledge of his subject. Kudos and ‘Huzzah for Otaheite’ and for Maxton!”—Éva Wahlroos, contributor, researcher, and collaborator on English-Tahitian/Tahitian-English Dictionary and Mutiny and Romance in the South Seas: A Companion to the Bounty Adventure

“At long last we have here a complete ‘Everyman’s Morrison,’ prepared by an established, devoted authority on the Bounty, and for the first time making available to a wider audience a readable and useful modern version of one of the great classic sources to our knowledge not only of the Bounty affair but also of late eighteenth-century Polynesia.”—Rolf E. Du Rietz, author of Bibliotheca Polynesiana and Peter Heywood's Tahitian Vocabulary and the Narratives of James Morrison: some notes on their origin and history

"Anybody who is looking for a glimpse into what extreme adventure looked like in this distant past would find this book to be intellectually and emotionally stimulating."—Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Glynn Christian
Introduction by Donald A. Maxton

Part One
The Mutiny and the Subsequent Misfortunes of the Mutineers

Part Two:
An Account of the Island of Tahiti and the Customs of the Islanders
Glossary of Nautical Terms
About the Editor

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