The Adventures of Captain Gulliver


Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels was first published in 1726. Published in 1776, The Adventures of Captain Gulliver is an enchanting chapbook adaptation of the story.

The popularity of Gulliver's Travels

Within the first couple of weeks of being published, Gulliver’s Travels was already being read by adults and children alikeSwift’s winning combination of adventure, fantasy and social satire had a wide appeal. In a letter sent to Swift on 17 November 1726, John Gay reported on the book’s generation-spanning success:

‘From the highest to the lowest it is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery’.[1]

Why is this book so small?

Gulliver’s Travels is frequently read in its entirety by children. However, this pocket-sized chapbook is an early example of how novels were abridged and adapted for young readers. Chapbooks were small booklets or pamphlets, which were cheap to make. Sometimes they were very small indeed, perhaps even half the size of this one. So how is this book different from the full version? Not only does it include eye-catching woodcut illustrations, but it also leaves out sections that are less exciting. For instance, it doesn't include Gulliver’s voyages to Laputa and Houyhnhnms Land in Parts 3 and 4. These sections of the book include Swift’s negative view on humanity, and are not particularly suitable for children. The shortened version of the story focusses more on Gulliver’s adventures among the pint-sized Lilliputians and the giants of Brobdingnag.

[1] The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, ed. by Harold Williams (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), Vol. 3, pp. 182–83.

Full title:
The adventures of Captain Gulliver, in a voyage to the islands of Lilliput and Brobdignag. Abridged from the works of ... Dean Swift. Adorned with cuts.
Book / Image / Illustration / Woodcut
Jonathan Swift
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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