History Archive > Travels in Brazil (1816)

Travels in Brazil


Date: 1816



+ View Citations


Koster, Henry. Travels in Brazil. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. 1816.


Koster, Henry (1816) Travels in Brazil. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.


Koster, Henry, Travels in Brazil. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. 1816.


Henry Koster, the son of a sugar merchant from Oporto, emigrated to Brazil in 1809, where he settled in Pernambuco until his death in 1820. This work was published during one of several visits the author made to England. Born in Portugal, the son of a Liverpool sugar dealer, Henry Koster originally visited Brazil for health reasons.

He arrived in Recife in mid-December of 1809. As his health improved, he began traveling in Parahiba and Maranhao. He settled in Pernambuco at the "Jaguaribe", a sugar plantation, and later acquired land in Itamaraca and a sitio in Gamboa. During his residence in Brazil he sailed several times to England, where in 1816 he published this celebrated book. Koster died in Recife in 1820.

+ Read More

Although Koster had no intention of writing a book about Brazil, he was urged to do so by friends, most notable among whom was Robert Southey, whom he met and befriended in Portugal in 1801, and whose library he utilized. Travels in Brazil was very well received by the public and critics; a second edition was issued the following year, and soon thereafter it was translated into French and German. Today it remains the best description in English of northern Brazil just before Independence. The original edition is of considerably greater rarity than most English travel literature of the period.

The plates that illustrate the work were executed according to Koster's own drawings by a close relative. The maps show the city of Pernambuco and the northeast coast of Brazil. In the Appendix (pp. 475-501), Koster transcribes 2 monographs, rare today, that Arruda Camara published in Rio de Janeiro, 1810; both deal with the plants of Brazil.Koster was keenly observant. In his description of the town of Pernambuco, for example (pp. 5-9), he notes the height and building material of houses in various sections of the town, the condition of the streets, public buildings, bridges, and the source of water.

Similar but less detailed information is given about Olinda, Natal and Sao Luis do Maranhao. On pp. 298-301 he describes the building of his own house, commenting on the types of wood used for different parts.In addition to references to sugar and sugar plantations throughout the text, Chapter XVI (pp. 336-64) is devoted entirely to sugar, and two of the aquatints are related to the subject. One shows a sugar mill, another a planter and his wife on a journey. Borba de Moraes (1983) I, 437: "This first edition is the one most sought after."

Schaffer, Portuguese Exploration to the West and the Formation of Brazil 80. Griffin, Latin America: A Guide to the Historical Literature 3355: "A classic account . . . rich in detail concerning the appearance and character of the people, their towns, the royal government, the countryside generally, and the plantations in particular." Annaes da Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro 1069.


Abbey Travel 704; Borba de Moaraes I, p. 437; Sabin 38272. Conrad 480. Dutra, Guide to the History of Brazil 626. Naylor 51. Bosch 299. Mindlin, Highlights 244. Rodrigues 1344. Cf. McNeil & Deas 43

Publication Information

Publisher: London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown




University of Toronto


ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-01-21

Book Reviews

No Reviews Yet

Submit Review