Bill Richardson - Published Works

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    Autobiographical note and selected bibliography
    (2013-06-28) Richardson, W A R
    William Arthur Ridley (Bill) Richardson, BA (Oxon), Dip.Ed. (Oxon), PhD (Flinders), was born in London 27 July 1924. After education at St John’s School, Leatherhead, Surrey (1937-42), he served in the British Army in the UK and SE Asia until 1947, and then studied at St John’s College, Oxford until 1952. He taught French and Spanish at Grammar Schools in Leytonstone, Winchester and Liverpool until 1965, when, together with his wife Helen and their two children he migrated to Australia to take up a lectureship at the University of Adelaide at Bedford Park, later Flinders University. There he taught Spanish, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, until retirement as an Associate Professor in 1987; since then he has been a Visiting Scholar there.
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    Northampton on the Welsh Coast? Some Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Sailing Directions
    (Cambrian Archaeological Association, 1995) Richardson, W A R
    Those fourteenth-, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century mariners who were literate almost certainly relied much more upon sailing directions than upon charts. A mere glance at some of the earliest surviving charts of areas other than the Mediterranean and the Black Sea will show why, for they amounted to little more than aides-memoires.
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    A Critique of Spanish and Portuguese Claims to Have Discovered Australia
    (Investigator. Geelong Historical Society, 1995) Richardson, W A R
    Claims that the Spanish and especially the Portuguese discovered Australia before the Dutch and English have gained a good deal of credence since they were first advanced. The matter is of some interest to the Geelong area particularly as Bonito's treasure at Queenscliff, the Geelong Keys and the Mahogany Ship near Warrnambool are often cited as "evidence". In this article Bill Richardson makes a detailed examination of these claims.
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    Response to Roy Schreiber's review of "Was Australia charted before 1606?"
    (American Historical Review, 2008) Richardson, W A R
    The author responds to a review of his book, 'Was Australia Charted before 1606?', justifying his reasoning in point form.
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    Toponymy and the History of Cartography
    (Royal Australian Historical Society, 1992) Richardson, W A R
    Within the last few years historians of cartography have become increasingly aware of the potential value of toponymy for the elucidation of early cartographical enigmas. One of the most notorious of these is the real identity of the apparent continent of Jave-la-Grande which figures exclusively on a number of French manuscript maps made in Dieppe in the mid-sixteenth century. Its position south of Java gave rise to the understandable supposition that it was an inaccurate, primitive map of Australia, since Australia is the only landmass that really does exist very approximately in that position. The east coast of Jave-la-Grande, though vaguely similar to Australia's east coast, has one feature which conspicuously fails to correspond to any on Australia's east coast, namely the huge triangular projection of cap de fremose. Only the most vivid imagination can find any resemblance whatsoever between the two west coasts.
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    Yet Another Version of the Portuguese 'Discovery' of Australia
    (The Globe. The Australian Map Circle, 2007) Richardson, W A R
    In this article, written in response to the recent publication of a book by Peter Trickett, 'Beyond Capricorn: How Portuguese adventurers secretly discovered and charted Australia and New Zealand 150 years before Captain Cook', the author dismisses the latest claims that the Portuguese discovered Australia.
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    Enigmatic Indian Ocean Coastlines on Early Maps and Charts
    (The Globe. The Australian Map Circle, 1998) Richardson, W A R
    Maps by early non-Iberian cartographers tended to rely heavily on Ptolemy's hopelessly inaccurate maps, and on a literal acceptance of Marco Polo's unreliable, second-hand writings. The identification of dubious, frequently imaginary coastlines on such maps is thus usually based on guesswork, or wishful thinking. Only critical examination of the inscriptions can provide reliable identifications. Maps of the Indian Ocean improved as Portuguese charts slowly supplanted Ptolemaic and Poloesque information.
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    Yet More 'Imaginography': Gavin Menzies and Peter Trickett
    (The Skeptic, 2008) Richardson, W A R
    Recently, two more works have appeared, by Gavin Menzies and Peter Trickett, also claiming that the non-existent landmass usually known as Jave-la-Grande (Great Java) immediately south of Indonesia on the mid-16th century Dieppe maps was a misplaced Portuguese map of Australia. It apparently did not occur to any of these authors that their premise may have been false.
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    'Imaginography': Sensational Pseudo-Discoveries
    (The Skeptic, 1999) Richardson, W A R
    The latter half of the 20th century has witnessed a veritable spate of reports in the press about the finding of historical artifacts concerning whose significance sensational claims have been made.
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    A Non-Existent Continent
    (The Skeptic, 2001) Richardson, W A R
    Too many people today expect early maps and charts of newly discovered lands to have similar standards of accuracy. They are unaware of how incredibly inaccurate many were. Information from different sources could be combined, with no consistency of scale. Many coastlines, such as those of Mercator's southern continent, were but imaginative, graphic representations of written descriptions. Only the inscriptions can confirm what the cartographer concerned was depicting, or thought he was depicting.
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    'Imaginography': sensational pseudo-discoveries
    (Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia, 1999) Richardson, W A R
    The latter half of the 20th century has witnessed a veritable spate of reports in the press about the finding of historical artifacts concerning whose significance sensational claims have been made.
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    The Portuguese Discovery of Australia: Fact or Fiction?
    (National Library of Australia, 1989) Richardson, W A R
    The Dutch, under Willem Janszoon in the Duyfken, and the British, under James Cook in the Endeavour, have long been known to have reached Australia's shores in 1606 and 1770 respectively. For more than two centuries a debate has been going on about whether any other Europeans preceded them.
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    Mercator's Southern Continent
    (The Globe. The Australian Map Circle, 1992) Richardson, W A R
    The age-old concept that a vast southern landmass must of necessity exist to counterbalance that in the northern hemisphere was given graphic expression by many cartographers, including Ptolemy, Johannes Schoener and Oronce Fine, but undoubtedly the most famous one is that depicted by Gerard Mercator.
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    Jave-La-Grande is not Australia
    (The Globe. The Australian Map Circle, 1992) Richardson, W A R
    The continent of Jave-la-Grande on the mid-16th century manuscript Dieppe maps has been the subject of much speculation for over two hundred years and has been claimed to provide evidence of an early Portuguese discovery of Australia. Mathematical and navigational arguments used by some writers to transform the outline of Jave-la-Grande into something more closely resembling that of Australia, and seeking to 'correct' its location and scale, have proved unsustainable.
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    Three Sixteenth Century Indian Ocean Shipwrecks: Maps as Historical Evidence
    (The Flinders University of South Australia, 1992) Richardson, W A R
    For two centuries the landmass named Jave-la-Grande, which appears south of Indonesia on a number of French manuscript world maps made between 1542 and 1566, has been claimed by some to be an early map of Australia, owing to its position and to the superficial similarity between part of its east coast and part of the east coast of Australia. However, place-name studies begun in 1980 seem to have provided incontrovertible proof that the landmass concerned has nothing whatsoever to do with Australia, but was composed from primitive, large-scale, Portuguese sketch charts of parts of the coasts of Java and Vietnam. The French cartographers, unable to identify them, but convinced that they were genuine, attached them to the southern coasts of Java and Sumbawa which were left blank on Portuguese 16th century charts.
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    An Indian Ocean Pilgrimage in Search of an Island
    (The Great Circle. Australian Association for Maritime History, 1989) Richardson, W A R
    As late as 1817, a chart of the Indian Ocean by L.S. de la Rochette was published in London by William Faden and approved by the Chart Committee of the British Admiralty. Among the numerous fascinating features on it is an island in approximately latitude 28 degrees south and longitude 74 degrees east; against it is the inscription 'Ilha dos Romeiros / in the Portuguese charts / very doubtful'. No island with any variation of that name exists on any chart today and there is no island anywhere near the indicated position. Yet an island with some version of the name appears on practically every map and chart on which the Indian Ocean is included, from the 16th century to the early 19th.
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    Cartographical Clues to Three Sixteenth-Century Shipwrecks in the Indian Ocean
    (The Great Circle. Australian Association for Maritime History, 1992) Richardson, W A R
    Recent place-name studies dealt with two variant, migratory inscriptions: the island of los romeros, actually Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean; and Psitacorum regio ('The Region of Parrots'), on a fictitious part of Gerard Mercator's southern continent. It is the purpose of this article to examine the background behind three shipwrecks in the Indian Ocean which have been recorded on maps and charts: all three wrecks are connected in one way or another with the above two inscriptions.
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    Review of Lawrence Fitzgerald, Java La Grande: The Portuguese Discovery of Australia, Hobart: The Publishers Pty Ltd, 1984
    (The Great Circle. Australian Association for Maritime History, 1985) Richardson, W A R
    In this book Brigadier Fitzgerald summarises the arguments for and against the identification of the apparent continent of Jave-la-Grande as Australia, as provided by some, but by no means all of those who have written on the subject. Evidence is now available which authoritatively supports his outright dismissal of Kenneth McIntyre's widely accepted thesis regarding the imagined distortion of the east coast of 'Australia' on the Dieppe maps. The Brigadier does not really explain his reasons for this rejection, but by implication he obviously includes Kenneth McIntyre amongst those researchers who "were out of their depth in murky waters". It is difficult, however, to view his quoting of Professor Spate's observation regarding the futility of "any attempt to match each cape and bay with corresponding features on modern charts" as anything but a direct challenge, for in essence his book is precisely such an attempt.
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    Review of Rainer Daehnhardt, George Collingridge & Richard H. Major, 'Segredos da descoberta da Australia pelos portugueses'. Sintra (Portugal): Zefiro, 2009
    (The Globe. The Australian Map Circle, 2010) Richardson, W A R
    This is the latest book claiming that the Portuguese discovered Australia. Belief in the validity of the claim appears to be contagious, despite the lack of any reliable evidence to support it.
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    Barrosa alias 'Barossa'
    (National Library of Australia, 2007) Richardson, W A R
    It is fairly well known that the name Barossa, identifying South Australia’s famous wine district, the Barossa Valley, is derived from the name originally bestowed by Colonel William Light, in 1837, to the Barossa Range. It commemorates the Peninsular War Battle of Barrosa that took place between the French and a mixed British–Spanish force on 5 March 1811.