# 37121

DAVIES, Rhys (1903-1978)

[JORGEN JORGENSON] Jörundar Hundadagakóngur

$120.00 AUD

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Reykjavik : Bokfellsutgafan, 1943. Small quarto (250 x 195 mm), original half morocco over marbled papered boards (corners a little worn, lower board scuffed), spine lettered in gilt; pp 279, [1 bibliography], with 7 full-page illustrations; text in Icelandic; pale water stain at top corner of frontispiece plate, otherwise internally very good.

First Icelandic translation of Sea urchin : adventures of Jorgen Jorgensen, being a true narrative of the life of a Danish adventurer : his glory, infamy and sad decline (London : Duckworth, 1940). Jorgenson, one of the most colourful characters in Australia’s convict history, was known to Icelanders as “the king of the dog-days”.

The Danish adventurer Jorgen Jorgenson first visited Australia in the years 1801-1805, arriving at Port Jackson as a sailor aboard the Harbinger. He was then transferred to the HMS Lady Nelson and probably sailed with Flinders in 1802, visiting Port Phillip and Van Diemen’s Land. After returning to Denmark he fought against the Royal Navy in the Anglo-Danish War, captaining a privateer. Following his capture and eventual release in London, he sailed to Iceland and staged a daring coup d’état with the help of an English crew, proclaiming Iceland’s independence from Denmark and himself as governor of the island. His Icelandic regime lasted only nine weeks during the northern summer of 1809 (hence the sobriquet “king of the dog-days”). Returning to England, he spent the next ten years in and out of prison due to alcohol and gambling problems, but was also employed as an English spy. Sentenced to death in 1820 for theft, he was eventually transported for life to Van Diemen’s Land in 1826. Jorgenson very soon gained a ticket-of-leave and was employed by the Van Diemen’s Land Company, actively involved in the exploration of the north and west of Tasmania and the notorious clearances of Aborigines. He received an official pardon in 1830.