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Life of George Bass

Surgeon and sailor of the Enlightenment

Life of George Bass by Miriam Estensen
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On 5 February 1802, the 142-ton brig Venus cleared Sydney heads to begin a trading voyage through the islands of the Pacific. On board as captain was one of her owners, the surgeon, navigator, adventurer and now entrepreneur George Bass. Neither Bass nor the Venus completed the voyage. They simply vanished into the Pacific. The questions are many. Was the Venus wrecked on the coast of New Zealand? Did the ship sink in a storm? Or, as some reports suggest, did Bass reach South America only to be incarcerated by the Spanish?

The brilliant and charismatic Bass embodied the Age of Enlightenment. He was a man of intense intellectual curiosity, of wide-ranging talents and contradictions. He had friends among Sydney's political ‘radicals' but was also of the establishment. He was a skilled surgeon who preferred navigation to medicine, a naval officer who put his career on hold in an attempt to make a fortune and a man deeply in love but who abandoned his ‘beloved Bess Bass' for the rewards of an adventurous voyage into commerce. In The Life of George Bass lie all the elements of personality and circumstance that shaped this short but remarkable life.

Miriam Estensen brings to bear exhaustive research in archives and libraries around the world, and her characteristic subtlety and insight to present a richly detailed account of the life and mysterious disappearance of this gifted and very complicated man.

Allen & Unwin; October 2005
320 pages; ISBN 9781741159011
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Title: Life of George Bass
Author: Miriam Estensen
 
ISBNs
1741159016
9781741141306
9781741159011