Timothy Turner, an Elizabethan scholar and assistant professor in the USF Sarasota-Manatee College of Arts and Sciences, received a USF System “New Researcher” grant to travel to the United Kingdom this summer to develop chapters for his second book. Turner’s project examines the experiences of English pirates, slaves, and other captives in the Americas in the 1500s. Funds from the grant will be used to study manuscript collections and early printed materials housed in the Cambridge University Library and the British Library in London. The Research Council selected Turner for the award in a competitive process as part of the USF Research & Innovation Internal Awards Program.
Turner’s project will examine the experiences of English pirates, slaves, and other captives in the Americas in the 1500s. The core of his study is a group of writings from the last of three voyages made by Sir John Hawkins, the first Englishman to sail to the New World to sell African slaves. “The bulk of the materials I wish to consult are found in an archive bequeathed to Cambridge by G. R. G. Conway, who amassed a vast trove of materials related to the experiences of Englishmen at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico City,” said Turner. “These archival materials shed special light on the fate of 100 English sailors abandoned by Hawkins in Mexico. Three of the men who survived returned to England and published accounts of their incredible adventures in the New World. Examining these materials, which is only possible in person, will illuminate the harrowing experiences of their authors–among the first English people to see America.” Turner’s book will show how the publication of these travel narratives in England between 1589 and 1625 brought them to the attention of William Shakespeare, especially influencing his popular late plays, such as “The Tempest.”
“Cambridge University and the British Library are two of the world’s premiere research institutions, so I look forward to this unique opportunity, and sincerely appreciate the efforts of the USF Research & Innovation Internal Awards Program in making this opportunity possible,” Turner said. “Shakespeare was a voracious reader, and my research aims to shed some light on how he responded to these exciting examples of early English travel literature.” Turner has already begun his research and written a paper, “Captivity, Slavery, and Autobiography: Four English Travelogues from New Spain,” to be presented at the meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in St. Louis, Missouri this April.