French explorer Marion Dufresne was the man who reached Tasmania before the English. His expedition was the first to encounter the Tasmanian Aborigines and was a precursor of the great voyages of La Perouse, d'Entrecasteaux, Baudin and d'Urville. France was not idle in her search for the Southland at the time of James Cook's great expeditions.
It is puzzling that Marion's name is absent not only from Australian but also from French reference works. His life of high adventure demands description - early success as a Breton corsair, a crucial part in the daring rescue from Scotland of Bonnie Prince Charlie, numerous voyages to the East, entrepreneurial boldness, discovery of the most westerly islands in the Indian Ocean and an early visit to New Zealand. He was surely one of the most colourful characters in our maritime history, and his story is told here with verve and skill.
To Australian and New Zealand readers this elegant biography will be, as Frank Horner writes, 'a reminder, or a revelation of the international context in which the English explorations of their homelands took place'. The eighteenth-century conflict between Britain and France is mirrored in Marion Dufresne's life.
The parallels with Cook are striking. Like his English contemporary, Marion was a brilliant mariner who proved his skills in merchant shipping before joining his nation's Royal Navy. Like Cook he was involved in scientific efforts to observe the Transit of Venus and sought the Southland in uncharted waters. Finally, he too died tragically at the hands of Polynesians.
Series: Miegunyah Press Series
Number Of Pages: 248
Published: 30th April 1990
Publisher: Melbourne University Press
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 24.0 x 17.6
Weight (kg): 0.44
Edition Number: 1