18th-century author Thomas Bankes often used images to supplement the texts he published whilst resonating their themes and messages.
A reverend vicar in Dixton, Monmouthshire, Bankes was a keen writer who published new editions of the Bible and other religious texts, including ‘The Christian’s New and Complete Family Bible.’ The purpose of this text was to make all aspects of Christian life more accessible and allow people to understand their own connection to their faith. The illustrations which complimented the text were a vital part of delivering this aim to the reader. They emphasised the messages of the biblical stories as well as creating appeal through their visually compelling nature.
Bankes also had an avid interest in the British expeditions undertaken, both historical and contemporary, across the world to discover new lands and continents. In collaboration with two other authors, in 1797 he published the first edition of ‘A modern, authentic and complete System of Universal Geography.’
This text was intended to document every aspect of the known world, with a particular focus on the travels of Captain James Cook (1728-1779).
Illustrations were once again a key part of the publication. These could vividly depict far-off lands and seas for a British audience. There is a fine attention to detail in depictions of dress and customs unique to different places. They are animated and expressive and would have been suited to the tastes and ideas of the time.
The book was published by numerous publishing houses across Britain, and was considered an incredibly successful and important work in its time. Numerous new editions were made well into the 19th century, and today it remains as an interesting insight into British presentations and representations of the wider world.
‘The Christian’s New and Complete Family Bible’ published.
First edition of ‘A modern, authentic and complete System of Universal Geography’ published.