Author Archives: Richard King

Twain, Mark (Samuel Clemens)

[CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE], “MARK TWAIN” (1835- 1910). Though more widely known for his writing on the Mississippi River, Samuel Clemens traveled extensively at sea, experiences that find their way into a number of the writings he published under the name Continue reading & text links

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Trethewey, Natasha

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Ballou, Maturin Murray (“Lieut. Murray,” “Frank Forester”)

[BALLOU, MATURIN MURRAY], “LIEUT. MURRAY,” “FRANK FORESTER” (1820-1895). An influential publisher of American periodicals, Maturin Murray Ballou was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He traveled extensively and entered the literary world by writing descriptive letters of his adventures for publication in Continue reading & text links

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Murphy, Robert Cushman

MURPHY, ROBERT CUSHMAN (1887-1973). Born in Brooklyn, Robert Cushman Murphy graduated from Brown University in 1911. The following year he married Grace E. Barstow and embarked on the whaler Daisy for the South Atlantic. A naturalist nominally in search of Continue reading & text links

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Mulzac, Hugh

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Mowat, Farley

MOWAT, FARLEY [MCGILL] (1921-2014). Farley Mowat is one of Canada’s more popular and controversial writers. Born 12 May 1921, in Belleview, Ontario, Mowat graduated from the University of Toronto in 1949. He spent two years during World War II as Continue reading & text links

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Mosley, Robert

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Pyle, Howard

PYLE, [JOHN] HOWARD (1853-1911). Howard Pyle was one of America’s foremost artists of children’s books, and he exerted a dramatic influence on generations of book illustrators. Pyle was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Until attending art school, he was an admittedly Continue reading & text links

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Poyer, David

POYER, DAVID [ANDREISSEN] (1949- ). David Poyer graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971 and is a naval reserve captain, experienced sailor, and underwater diver. Poyer adapted his active-duty navy experiences to write best-selling sagas of naval fiction. The Continue reading & text links

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Pound, Ezra

POUND, EZRA [LOOMIS] (1885-1972). Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho. As an expatriate living in Europe, Pound’s experiments with translation and poetic form resulted in his vivid translation of the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon poem “The Seafarer” (1911) and in the Continue reading & text links

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Porter, Katherine Anne

PORTER, KATHERINE ANNE (1890-1980). Callie Russell Porter was born in Indian Creek, Texas, into a poor family and died in Silver Spring, Maryland, early assuming her paternal grandmother’s name. Living in Mexico, New York, Paris, Germany, and Washington, D.C., Katherine Continue reading & text links

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Porter, David

PORTER, DAVID (1780-1843). The son of a veteran of the American Revolution, David Porter was born in Boston and grew up in Baltimore. He began his naval career as a midshipman in 1798 and became master commandant in 1806. In Continue reading & text links

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Poe, Edgar Allan

POE, EDGAR ALLAN (1809-1849). Edgar Allan Poe, best known for his tales of Gothic horror, was a writer of poetry, short and long fiction, an unfinished drama, criticism, literary theory, essays, and a “cosmological prose poem.” His more than seventy Continue reading & text links

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Plath, Sylvia

PLATH, SYLVIA (1932-1963). Sylvia Plath was born in Boston, and her family moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts, a seaside suburb, in 1936, where she lived until they moved inland to Wellesley in 1942. Her childhood by the Atlantic was significant in Continue reading & text links

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Philbrick, Nathaniel

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Phelps, Elizabeth

PHELPS ELIZABETH [STUART] (1844-1911). Growing up in Andover, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Phelps was a lifelong resident of New England and had a summer home in Gloucester. She was a staunch feminist who participated in causes that ranged from temperance to conditions Continue reading & text links

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Peterson, Charles Jacob (“J. Thornton Randolph” or “Harry Danforth”)

[PETERSON, CHARLES JACOB], “HARRY DANFORTH,” “J. THORNTON RANDOLPH” (1819-1887). Charles Jacob Peterson was an editor, publisher, and historian, born in Philadelphia, where he worked all his life. Once he acquired an ample fortune, he and his wife purchased a mansion Continue reading & text links

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Perry, Commodore Matthew

PERRY, COMMODORE MATTHEW [CALBRAITH] (1794-1858). Commodore Matthew Perry served a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, which began in January 1809, when he was commissioned as a midshipman. Perry is best known for commanding an 1853 expedition of Continue reading & text links

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Percival, James Gates

PERCIVAL, JAMES GATES (1795-1856). Though he often mentioned the ocean in his poetry, James Gates Percival made little use of direct observation. As state geologist for Connecticut, he mapped the landforms along the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. But in Continue reading & text links

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Paretsky, Sara

PARETSKY, SARA (1947- ). V. I. Warshawski, the protagonist in all of Sara Paretsky’s mysteries to date, is a private investigator in Chicago who pursues criminals. In some of her exploits, Warshawski traces them to the wharves, marinas, and beaches Continue reading & text links

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Paine, Ralph Delahaye

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Safina, Carl

SAFINA, CARL (1955-). Carl Safina is a biologist, author, activist, and educator. Born on May 23, 1955, in Brooklyn, NY, Safina spent his childhood fishing, breeding pigeons, and playing music. In high school, he participated in a bird-banding survey on Continue reading & text links

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Herbert, Frank

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Wouk, Herman

by Laurence W. Mazzeno (2000) WOUK, HERMAN (1915-2019). Herman Wouk, author of the best-selling sea novel The Caine Mutiny (1951) and other works about the navy in World War II, was born in New York City, eldest son of Russian Jewish Continue reading & text links

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Woolson, Constance Fenimore

by Victoria Brehm (2000) WOOLSON, CONSTANCE FENIMORE (1840-1894). One of the first American realists, Constance Fenimore Woolson began her career writing about the Great Lakes, including an early story, “Margaret Morris” (1872), which is the first shipwreck fiction of the Continue reading & text links

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Wilson, Sloan

WILSON, SLOAN (1920-2003). Sloan Wilson was a Coast Guard officer before he became a novelist and a yachtsman before he gained a commission in the Coast Guard. He came to regard his Coast Guard experience as more educative than his Continue reading & text links

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Wilson, Gilbert

WILSON, GILBERT [BROWN] (1907-1991). Having studied in the 1930s to be a muralist, from the 1940s through the 1960s Gilbert Wilson worked in diverse media to interpret Moby-Dick (1851) visually, with the intention of bringing Herman Melville’s novel to the Continue reading & text links

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Wilson, August

WILSON, AUGUST (1945-2005). August Wilson, a prominent American playwright, was born Frederick August Kittel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 27, 1945 to Frederick Kittel, a German baker, and Daisy Wilson Kittel, an African American cleaning woman. Born the fourth of Continue reading & text links

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Williams, William Carlos

WILLIAMS, WILLIAM CARLOS (1883-1963). Although modern poet, novelist, and essayist William Carlos Williams once said that all of his art came out of the work-yard of his lifelong home in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he practiced medicine, that is not Continue reading & text links

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Williams, Ben Ames

All the Brothers Were Valiant (1919) Continue reading & text links

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Wilkes, Charles

WILKES, CHARLES (1798-1877). Charles Wilkes was an American naval officer, hydrographer, and writer. He commanded the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838 to 1842, wrote its five-volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition (1844), edited the expedition’s eighteen scientific volumes, Continue reading & text links

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Whittier, John Greenleaf

WHITTIER, JOHN GREENLEAF (1807-1892). A Quaker abolitionist and poet, John Greenleaf Whittier epitomizes the poet of rural life. With his New England contemporaries, however, he had little relish for straying far from the reach of the sea breeze. Sea motifs Continue reading & text links

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Whitman, Walt

WHITMAN, WALT[ER] (1819-1892). Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, near Huntington on northwestern Long Island. With almost two centuries of ancestral residence on the island and some seafaring tradition in his family, Whitman was naturally attuned to the ocean Continue reading & text links

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Wheatley, Phillis

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Vukelich, George

VUKELICH, GEORGE (1927-1995). “[I]t was good to be on the Great Lakes,” wrote George Vukelich in 1955 to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal, after a spell as an ore boat deckhand. This sentiment pervades much of his work, including Continue reading & text links

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Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr.

VONNEGUT, KURT, JR (1922-2007). Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis but soon moved east, eventually settling in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1951, where he lived for twenty years. His essay “Brief Encounters on the Inland Waterway” (first pub. in Venture Continue reading & text links

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Vollmann, William T.

VOLLMANN, WILLIAM T[ANNER]. (1959- ). William T. Vollmann’s very ambitious project is a seven-novel series entitled Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes, which interweaves history, myth and legend, imagination, illustrations, and personal travel experience to chronicle the “symbolic Continue reading & text links

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Vidal, Gore

VIDAL, GORE [EUGENE LUTHER] (1925-2012). Gore Vidal was born in West Point, New York, attended Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and served in the army during World War II. A novelist, playwright, and essayist, he occasionally employs maritime settings Continue reading & text links

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Updike, John

UPDIKE, JOHN [HOYER] (1932-2009). John Updike is the author of over fifteen novels and an impressive body of shorter fiction, poetry, and criticism, much of which has been published in The New Yorker. Born in Pennsylvania, he has lived on Continue reading & text links

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Thoreau, Henry David

THOREAU, HENRY DAVID (1817-1862). Henry David Thoreau is most often associated with his birthplace and home, Concord, Massachusetts, and the woods, ponds, and streams in the vicinity of the town. But he frequently made excursions to other places, and often Continue reading & text links

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Thompson, John

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Thaxter, Celia Laighton

THAXTER, CELIA [LAIGHTON] (1835-1894). Celia Thaxter was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Thomas and Eliza Laighton, who moved to the Isles of Shoals, nine miles off the coast of New Hampshire, when Celia was five years old. They eventually Continue reading & text links

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Taylor, James Bayard

TAYLOR, JAMES BAYARD (1825-1878). James Bayard Taylor, born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, launched his career as a travel writer with Views Afoot (1846), an account of a walking tour of Europe, and soon became probably the most popular and prolific Continue reading & text links

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Symmes, John Cleves, “Captain Adam Seaborn”

[SYMMES, JOHN CLEVES], “CAPTAIN ADAM SEABORN” (1780-1829). Some scholars believe that “Captain Adam Seaborn,” the author of this fictional, first-person narrative, is the pseudonym of army officer and amateur geographer Captain John Cleves Symmes (1780-1829). Symmes claimed that the earth Continue reading & text links

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Stratemeyer, Edward L.

The Last Cruise of the Spitfire (1894) Continue reading & text links

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Stowe, Harriet Beecher

by Margherita M. Desy (2000) STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER (1811-1896). Harriet Beecher Stowe is internationally famous for her antislavery best-seller Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). In the summer of 1852, still living in Brunswick, Maine, where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe began Continue reading & text links

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Stone, William Leete

STONE, WILLIAM LEETE (1792-1844). William Leete Stone was a journalist and writer whose career as a newspaperman largely overshadowed his work as a historian. Born in New Paltz, New York, Stone had little formal schooling in advance of his employment Continue reading & text links

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Stone, Robert

STONE, ROBERT [ANTHONY] (1937-2015). A distinguished, award-winning novelist, Robert Stone turned to nautical fiction in his fifth book, Outerbridge Reach (1992). Born in New York to a family of tugboaters, he served from 1955 to 1958 as a radioman and Continue reading & text links

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Stoddard, Elizabeth

STODDARD, ELIZABETH [DREW BARSTOW] (1823-1902). Iconoclastic novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet, Elizabeth Stoddard was born in the coastal town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, the daughter of its foremost shipbuilder and maritime merchant. Both the fluctuations of her father’s maritime Continue reading & text links

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Stockton, Frank R.

STOCKTON, FRANK [FRANCIS] R[ICHARD]. (1834-1902). Best known for his short story “The Lady or the Tiger?” (1882), Frank R. Stockton lived in the eastern United States and wrote variously for both children and adults. His interest in the water was Continue reading & text links

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