The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus: His Discovery and Exploration of the Americas

1828 by Washington Irving

This celebrated biography of Christopher Columbus takes us from his obscure youth to his discovery of the Americas, and through the four voyages he made to the New World.

Columbus was born in Genoa, and gained maritime experience by sailing in Europe and along the coast of Africa at a young age. He was voracious in educating himself on topics such as astronomy and geography, and achieved fluency in multiple languages. Formulating a plan to traverse the Atlantic Ocean, his persistence resulted in a commission from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Columbus made landfall in the New World in 1492, his success stunned Europe’s leaders and spurred a new era of naval exploration and colonization.

The biographer, Washington Irving, was acclaimed for his histories and short fiction. By the time he published this account of Columbus in 1828, Irving was lauded for his fluent and entertaining narratives. However, some scholars criticized his treatment of Columbus and the Age of Discovery, noting that certain events and persons are described with details and romanticisms that do not appear in sources. While Irving claims Columbus was born in 1435, modern historians agree the explorer was born in 1451. Nevertheless, Irving’s work was the most widely-read treatment of Columbus for over a century.

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