Literature Study GuidesOf Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation | Study Guide

William Bradford

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William Bradford

Years Written



Primary Source



At a Glance

In writing a year-by-year history of Plymouth Colony, also called New Plymouth, William Bradford hoped to leave a record of the colonists' experiences for future generations. In early chapters Bradford repeatedly stresses the religious motives that led the Pilgrims to emigrate first from England to the Netherlands and then to found a colony in the New World. Later chapters tell of the challenges faced by the settlers, including famine, disease, and intermittent war with their Native American neighbors.

At some point during the late 18th century, Bradford's writings were transported to England, where they lay in obscurity until their rediscovery in the 1840s. Since then they have been eagerly studied as the single most important primary source concerning life at Plymouth Colony. Their value derives from the importance of Plymouth itself as the first successful British colony in New England. Given the almost mythological place the Pilgrims occupy in American history, it is no surprise to find Of Plymouth Plantation on the syllabi of history and literature courses nationwide.

About the Title

William Bradford's work is an account of the origins of Plymouth Colony, or what is known as Plymouth Plantation in present-day Massachusetts. The book—Bradford's journal—tells of the colony's creation as a response to religious persecution in England and relates major events during the first 25 years of its existence.


This study guide for William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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