The Maldive Islands.
An Account of the Physical Features, Climate, History, Inhabitants, Productions, and Trade. Colombo Frank Luker, Acting Government Printer, Ceylon 1883
First edition, folio, pp.[iv], 133, 3 folding maps, 1 folding table. A very good copy in contemporary half calf, gilt, cloth a little worn, one short tear to bottom of spine. With a letter from Bell to a Mr Ravenscroft loosely inserted, presenting this copy in thanks for the loan of a copy of Pyrard de Laval during the preparation of the work, signed, and dated November 30th, 1883, Colombo.
The first comprehensive, modern account of the Maldives, prepared by the British civil servant Harry Charles Purvis Bell (1851-1937), who served in Ceylon for his entire career, and developed an abiding interest in the Maldives, hitherto largely ignored by the British government at Colombo, under whose supervision they fell. Bell's historical sketch of the islands combines newly accessible material from Ibn Battuta's travels with the 17th century travels of Pyrard de Laval, though he only gained access to a complete copy of the text after the completion of this report; the copy borrowed from Mr Ravenscroft was the 1679 fourth edition. The historical sketch includes a great deal on the history of the sultans of the Maldives, from the earliest arrival of Islam on the islands, through to the 19th century, and their important role as waystation between the Middle East and India. The report also provides a comprehensive account of the present state of the Maldives, in almost every aspect imaginable.