Memoirs of a Malayan family, written by themselves, and translated from the original by W. Marsden, F.R.S.

London, printed for the Oriental Translation Fund, sold by J. Murray and Parbury, Allen & Co., 1830.

Large 8vo, pp. [4], iv, 88, with subscriber’s leaf before title; a little spotting (mostly to endpapers), slightly loose in binding; a very good, clean, partly unopened copy in original green cloth, printed spine label; spine sunned with slight wear to ends, a few marks to covers; ink stamp of New Delhi bookseller to blank verso of half-title and to rear free endpaper; ‘this copy was printed for Sir T. Phillipps, Bart. M.R.S.L.’ (subscriber’s leaf).


US $2061€1757

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Memoirs of a Malayan family, written by themselves, and translated from the original by W. Marsden, F.R.S.

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First edition, Sir Thomas Phillipps’s copy, of Marsden’s translation of an account of the travels and trials of a Malayan family trading pepper in Java and Sumatra in the 1750s and 1760s, including their encounters with the Dutch and British East India Companies.

Marsden (1754–1836) – who spent eight years in Sumatra with the East India Company, and whose other works include a History of Sumatra (1783) and a Dictionary of the Malayan Language (1812) – acquired the original manuscript of the Memoirs in 1791 but postponed publication while working on other projects, and for fear of offending either the British or Dutch East India Companies. As Marsden points out in his introduction, the Memoirs are valuable as ‘a genuine picture, by a native hand, of Malayan manners and dispositions, more forcibly, and ... more dramatically represented, than they could be drawn by the pencil of any stranger’ (p. ii).

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872), collector of books and manuscripts par excellence, joked in 1869 that he wished to own ‘one copy of every book in the world’.

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