Bishop Hall and Terra Australis

I’ve made another surprising discovery about Joseph Hall, the Bishop of Exeter (see previous post). Back in the early 1600s, he is busy writing about Australia…or, at least, Terra Australis as it was known.

It turns out that he wrote a satire which was titled: Mundus alter et idem sive Terra Australis. It’s a dystopian fantasy and, while the term ‘Terra Australis’ had been used to refer to the unknown South land, this appears to be the earliest fantasy fiction about such a land. The satire is sometimes proposed to have been a forerunner to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

A copy of the book can be found in the National Library of Australia. Or you can purchase an edition online…but they are not cheap!

Hall’s satires were written in his younger days prior to his ordination as a priest in the Church of England. Mundus alter et idem appears to have been published around 1606 which is shortly after the voyage of the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernádez de Quirós (1563–1614). Quiros who sailed in service of Spain is well-known for his declaration that he had found Australia del Espíritu Santo – the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

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