Form and Content
As she makes clear in her introduction, And Tomorrow the Stars, Kay Hill’s biography of John Cabot, is highly fictional because of the scarcity of primary source material. Only a handful of documents that reference the fifteenth century explorer exist, and many of these are ambiguous, frequently referring to Cabot by different names. In order to make Cabot a “living person,” Hill decided to create a historical fiction “firmly set in the period,” detailing a narrative that might have happened, given the historical background and allusions in the primary source material.
The result is a book divided into two main sections, one detailing the boyhood and early life of the explorer, the other the growth of the man and the eventual discovery of the North American mainland in 1497. A short section at the end of the book presents excerpts from the original source material in order to anchor the text in factual material. An annotated bibliography also supports the text’s general discussion of Europe in the late fifteenth century. Finally, a series of early maps and several illustrations serve to demonstrate the growth of knowledge in a period that changed the shape of the world dramatically. The maps, originally depicting only Europe, Africa, and Asia, gradually expand as the age of exploration increases global understanding: By the book’s end, Cabot’s contribution is drawn in terms of a map that includes the vague outline of the New World...
(The entire section is 431 words.)