Kathleen Donegan University of California, Berkeley What Happened in Roanoke Ralph Lane's Narrative Incursion Writing from the "new Fort in Virginia" in September 1585, colonial governor Ralph Lane proclaimed he was on "the goodliest soile under the cope of heaven" (Quinn 210, 207). If it were to be fully possessed by Englishmen, he projected, "no realme in Christendome were comparable to it" (208). But the following June, he and his company frantically pulled up stakes and returned to England, trailing a wake of violence behind them. Shoreside, their onetime hosts were shocked, incensed, and deeply set on reprisal. What drove the colony out so precipitously? To answer that question, we might look to the three primary sources produced in that settlement. Thomas Harriot's A Briefe and True Report from the New-Found Land of Virginia tells us a great deal about the land, its potential commodities, and its inhabitants, but it does not tell us what happened. John White's watercolors provide detailed portraits of individuals, material culture, and social organization in the area, but they do not tell us what happened. The text that comes closest to doing so is a third but frequently unread source: Ralph Lane's An
Early American Literature – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jul 19, 2013
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