George Washington’s Barbados Diary, 1751-1752

George Washington’s Barbados Diary, 1751-1752, documents Washington’s only trip abroad, to the Caribbean island of Barbados. He accompanied his older half brother Lawrence, who suffered from poor health, in the hopes that the tropical climate might cure him. This volume, which includes scholarly essays, comprehensive annotation, and color illustrations, is the first complete edition of the diary to be produced in 126 years. The diary’s severely mutilated condition and lack of detail had discouraged previous scholars from most attempts at editing beyond a sparse transcription or photo reproduction.

In revisiting this obscure manuscript, Anderson and Price uncovered new details about the voyage and challenged previously held assumptions. They discovered that George and Lawrence began their journey well before the first date recorded in the diary: Sept. 28, 1751. The Washington brothers would have been halfway to Bermuda by that time. Through the use of naval shipping lists, they also found that the owner of the brigantine Success was Lawrence’s brother-in-law. Though former Washington Papers editors had theorized already that the brothers sailed on the Success, Anderson and Price’s revelation lent the assertion even more credibility.

With the edition now accessible to modern readers, both editors hope the public can use the volume to learn more about a young George Washington and his world as well as about the practice of documentary editing.

Alicia K. Anderson and Lynn Price, eds., George Washington’s Barbados Diary, 1751-1752. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2018.

Purchase from the University of Virginia Press.