Synopses & Reviews
Dispelling the clouds of romance and legend that have surrounded Pocahontas throughout the more than two centuries since her death, Grace Steele Woodward here re-creates the life of the Powhatan Indian princess. Indeed, the true story, as it emerges from these pages, is probably more dramatic and certainly more significant for American history than the legend.
The story of Pocahontas coincides with the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in the New World. Her story begins with her first visit to the colony as a child of ten and ends with her journey to England with her English husband, John Rolfe, and their young son.
The event which catapulted her to fame was, of course, her rescue of Captain John Smith from murder at the hands of her father, Chief Powhatan, and his warriors. But the more significant contribution she made was her almost singlehanded deliverance of the Jamestown colonists from starvation and massacre. Without her compassionate gifts of food and warnings about her father's plots against them, the Jamestown settlers would probably have met the same fate as that of the Roanoke settlers.
Pocahontas' visit to London was arranged by the Virginia Company, which established the Jamestown colony, not only as a gesture of appreciation to the young princess but also as a means of stimulating further interest in New World colonization. It was Pocahontas' final act of devotion to the colonists. She was never to see her homeland again.
In preparation for writing this biography, Mrs. Woodward searched out the Virginia settings where Pocahontas lived as a child and those in England which she visited in adulthood. The author studied every pertinent document of the period, from official records of the Virginia Company to letters of highborn Londoners telling about Pocahontas' visit to England and its sorrowful aftermath.
"The meticulous scholarship of the author of The Cherokees does not dim but in fact enhances the romantic story of the appealing daughter of Chief Powhatan and her friendship with the colonists of the Jamestown settlement. Her friendship extended beyond her rescue of Captain John Smith to supplying the starving colonists with food and warning them of Indian attacks. Her marriage and brief life in England are vividly recreated." Booklist
"This scholarly study cuts through legend and romance to delineate the role of Pocahontas in assisting the struggling settlements of early Virginia against the twin enemies of hostile natives and devastating hunger." American Historical Review
"The book adds a new chapter to American colonial history. Very extensive research at the actual scenes adds to the dimension and interest of his book." Amerindian
"Pocahontas here receives authentic treatment at the hands of a skilled historian." Choice
"Its virtues are impressive. Foremost among them aside from the work's clear style throughout is the thoroughgoing study of that Powhatan culture from which Pocahontas emerged." Journal of Southern History
About the Author
R. David Edmunds, Professor of History at the University of Texas in Dallas, is a historian of Native American people and the American West. The author or editor of ten books and over one hundred essays, articles, and other shorter publications, Edmunds' major works have been awarded the Francis Parkman Prize (The Potawatomis: Keepers Of The Fire, 1978); the Ohioana Prize for Biography (The Shawnee Prophet , 1983); and the Alfred Heggoy Prize of the French Colonial Historical Society (The Fox Wars: The Mesquakie Challenge To New France, 1993).
Grace Steel Woodward (1899–1987) was the author of numerous books, including The Cherokees and Pocahontas.