Hakluyt, Richard ca. 1552–1616 English Geographer
Although not a world traveler himself, geographer Richard Hakluyt played an important role in promoting English exploration and trade. His writings, based on explorers' accounts of voyages, highlighted and encouraged England's involvement in global affairs.
Born in London, Hakluyt was raised by his cousin, from whom he got his interest in geography and overseas travel. As an avid collector of geographical information, Hakluyt corresponded with great Flemish* mapmakers, including Gerardus Mercator. He also came to know such English navigators as Sir Francis Drake, Martin Frobisher, and Sir Walter Raleigh. He collected, edited, and often translated accounts of voyages undertaken by a variety of European travelers.
For all his interest in geography, Hakluyt was mainly concerned with promoting English expansion and trade. He argued for a bold English effort to challenge and counter Spanish power in the Americas. Hakluyt's most important work, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589), attempted to give England a history of voyaging stretching back some 1,600 years. It had a lasting effect on the country's view of itself.
- * Flemish
relating to Flanders, a region along the coasts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands