The Journals 1768–1779

Captain James Cook

Selected, edited and introduced by Philip Edwards

The Folio Society’s three-volume set of the journals of Captain Cook from 1768–1779 is accompanied by a chart of the voyages bound in cloth.


The son of an agricultural labourer, James Cook became the most renowned explorer and navigator of the 18th century. This sumptuous three-volume set of his private journals is accompanied by a full-size chart.

Production details

3 volumes

Bound in printed and blocked cloth with a design by Tomislav Tomić

Set in Garamond

736 pages in total

24 pages of colour and black & white plates per volume

11 mono integrated maps in total

Decorative title pages

Fold-out map inserted in a case bound in blocked cloth

Blocked slipcase

˝ x 6¼˝

Mapping the 18th century

The voyages that Cook undertook between 1768 and 1779 considerably increased British knowledge of the Pacific and Southern oceans. His is the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, the first documented circumnavigation of New Zealand, and he further penetrated the far-flung waters of Antarctica, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Alaska and Tonga. The first voyage (1768 to 1771) recorded in Tahiti the transit of Venus across the sun’s face, the second voyage (1772 to 1775) set out to find the Great Southern Continent, and the third and final voyage (1776 to 1779) looked for the North-west Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was after failing to find this that Cook turned south to explore Hawaii, where he was stabbed and killed by islanders in 1779.

The personal insights of an exceptional explorer

Each volume is devoted to one of Captain Cook’s three pioneering voyages, and contains a concise and informative introduction, maps of the voyage and Philip Edwards’s unsurpassed selection of the journal itself (the third volume also includes a postscript on Cook’s tragic death). All three voyages included scientific officers (most notably Joseph Banks, later to become President of the Royal Society) whose chronicling of the natural history they encountered added incomparably to the Western world’s canon of scholarship.

The books are presented in an elegant blocked slipcase, with all three volumes fully bound in cloth and each featuring an evocative cover illustration by Croatian illustrator Tomislav Tomić. Contemporary full-colour images of such subjects as Cook, his crews and ships, the places they visited and the inhabitants of these locations enhance the text, alongside black-and-white integrated maps. In addition, the 1794 chart of the voyages of Captain Cook accompanies the three volumes in its own cloth-bound map case.


Captain James Cook (1728–79) was a naval captain, navigator, explorer and cartographer. Born in Marton, Yorkshire, the son of an agricultural labourer, he was apprenticed to a Quaker shipowner in Whitby and served two years in the Baltic trade. Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755, became master of the Pembroke in 1757, and the following year took part in the siege of Louisburg and the survey of the St Lawrence River that led to the capture of Quebec. In 1768, Cook was chosen to lead a scientific exploration to observe the transit of Venus in the South Seas for the Royal Society, and the Admiralty duly promoted him from master to lieutenant and gave him command of the Endeavour. This was the first of three voyages to the Pacific ocean: the first, from 1768–71, as lieutenant of the Endeavour; the second, from 1772–5, as commander of the Resolution, accompanied by the Adventure; and the third from 1776 until his death in 1779 as captain of the Resolution, accompanied by the Discovery. Over the course of these voyages Cook circumnavigated and charted New Zealand, surveyed and claimed the east coast of Australia, explored Antarctica, visited Tahiti and discovered island groups such as New Caledonia and Hawaii.


Philip Edwards (1923–2015) was a professor of English literature and an editor. He served during the Second World War in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and held academic positions at Trinity College Dublin, Essex University and Liverpool University, as well as visiting posts in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. A Fellow of the British Academy, his numerous publications include Shakespeare and the Confines of Art (1968), Threshold of a Nation (1979), Shakespeare: A Writer’s Progress (1986), Last Voyages: Cavendish, Hudson, Ralegh (1988), The Story of the Voyage: Sea Narratives in Eighteenth-Century England (1994) and Sea-Mark: The Metaphorical Voyage, Spenser to Milton (1997).


You May Also Like

  1. Editors Choice


    Edited by Peter Gillman


    Compiled, written and edited by Peter Gillman for The Folio Society, Everest: From Reconnaissance to Summit is an exclusive record of five key expeditions, introduced by Wade Davis and Jan Morris with superlative photography from the Royal Geographical Society archives.

  2. Image of Shackleton's Antarctica book

    Shackleton’s Antarctica

    Ernest Shackleton


    Commemorating the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s death, The Folio Society brings together The Heart of the Antarctic and South – thrilling accounts of his greatest polar expeditions in his own words.

  3. Pole to Pole

    Pole to Pole

    Michael Palin


    Pole to Pole is Michael Palin’s account of his epic journey from the Arctic to Antarctic, via the USSR, Africa and South America: a classic adventure in a beautiful Folio Society edition, with superb original photography.