Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616)
Hakluyt (pronounced “hak-loot” and “hak-light”) was an Elizabethan chaplain, private secretary, and deeply curious man who applied himself to a particular task: knowing everything one could know about the new world and how to get there. By our standards, Elizabethan explorers could be spectacularly casual about what they felt they needed to know to pilot a wooden ship across a forbidding sea in pursuit of landfall, contact, riches and glory. While his contemporaries were risking everything on scant knowledge, Hakluyt was gathering intelligence, quizzing explorers, assembling reports, and collecting maps. In the place of scant knowledge, rough ideas and blind reaction, Hakluyt was building a system of knowledge.