9780140437966

The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale

by ; ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780140437966

  • ISBN10:

    0140437967

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-05-01
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics

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Summary

The gripping narrative of an infamous whaling ship disaster, as told by the survivors. In 1820 the Nantucket whaleship Essex, thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific, was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The Essex sank, leaving twenty crew members drifting in three small open boats for ninety days. The Titanic story of its day, the incident also provided the inspiration for Melville's Moby-Dick. The Narrative of the Wreck of the Whaleship Essex, by Owen Chase, has long been the essential account of the Essex's doomed voyage. But in 1980 a new account of the disaster was discovered, penned late in life by Thomas Nickerson, who had been the fifteen-year-old cabin boy of the ship. This edition presents Nickerson's never-before-published chronicle alongside Chase's version. Also included are the most important other contemporary accounts of the incident, Melville's notes in his copy of the Chase narrative, and journal entries by Emerson and Thoreau.

Author Biography

Thomas Philbrick is professor emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburgh.


Nathaniel Philbrick, is a leading authority on the history of Nantucket Island. His In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award. His latest book is Sea of Glory, about the epic U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842. His other books include Away off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 (which Russell Baker called "indispensable") and Abram's Eyes: The Native American Legend of Nantucket Island ("a classic of historical truthtelling," according to Stuart Frank, director of the Kendall Whaling Museum). He has written an introduction to a new edition of Joseph Hart's Miriam Coffin, or The Whale Fisherman, a Nantucket novel (first published in 1834) that Melville relied upon for information about the island when writing Moby Dick.

Philbrick, a champion sailboat racer, has also written extensively about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor (1987) and the forthcoming Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor's Odyssey. He was editor in chief of the classic Yaahting: A Parody (1984).

In his role as director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, Philbrick, who is also a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association, gives frequent talks about Nantucket and sailing. He has appeared on "NBC Today Weekend", A&E's "Biography" series, and National Public Radio and has served as a consultant for the movie "Moby Dick", shown on the USA Network. He received a bachelor of Arts from Brown University and a Master of Arts in American Literature from Duke. He lives on Natucket with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Suggestions for Further Reading xv
The Essex Narratives xvii
First Reports
1(10)
The Paddack Letter
3(4)
The Macy Letter
7(4)
The Mate's Story
11(70)
Chase's Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex
13(62)
Herman Melville's Annotation of Chase's Narrative
75(6)
The Boy's Story
81(104)
Nickerson's ``Desultory Sketches''
83(96)
Nickerson's Letter to Lewis
179(6)
The Captain's Story
185(16)
Excerpt from Ridgely's Letterbook
187(4)
Excerpt from Wilkes's Autobiography
191(4)
Excerpt from Tyerman and Bennet's Journal
195(6)
The Boatsteerer's Story
201(16)
An Account of the Loss of the Essex
203(8)
Excerpt from the Journal of the Surry
211(6)
Extracts: Memories and Apocrypha
217(8)
Notes 225

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