Tag Archives: 19th Century

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Slocum, Joshua

SLOCUM, JOSHUA (1844-1909?). Joshua Slocum, the first singlehanded circumnavigator and author of the classic Sailing Alone Around the World (1900), was born in Nova Scotia. At sixteen he left home to work as a deepwater sailor and by 1869 commanded Continue reading & text links

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Simms, William Gilmore

SIMMS, WILLIAM GILMORE (1806-1870). William Gilmore Simms was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent most of his life. He was, with the exception of Edgar Allan Poe, the most significant author of the antebellum South. Beginning as a Continue reading & text links

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Semmes, Raphael

SEMMES, RAPHAEL (1809-1877). A naval officer first in the United States and then in the Confederate navy, Raphael Semmes wrote two books on his naval adventures. The first, Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War (1851), is an account of Continue reading & text links

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe

SCHOOLCRAFT, HENRY ROWE (1793-1864). Born in upstate New York, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was trained as a glassmaker. Like many Americans of his age, however, as a young man Schoolcraft went west, where his knowledge of mineralogy led eventually to his Continue reading & text links

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Sargent, Epes

SARGENT, EPES (1813-1880). A Boston newspaperman and son of a Gloucester sea captain, Epes Sargent is best remembered as the author of the lyrics of one of the best-known nautical songs of the nineteenth century. In addition to American Adventures Continue reading & text links

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Samuels, Samuel

SAMUELS, SAMUEL (1823-1908). Samuel Samuels was the most famous of the packet-ship masters, eventually commanding the renowned Dreadnought (1853). Packets sailed on a set schedule, regardless of whether or not their cargo holds were full. Almost all that is known Continue reading & text links

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Rowson, Susanna H.

ROWSON, SUSANNA H[ASWELL]. (1762-1824). Born in Portsmouth, England, Susanna H. Rowson became an actress, educator, prolific writer in several genres, and notably the author of Charlotte Temple (1791), America’s first best-selling novel. Rowson’s father, William Haswell, was a lieutenant in Continue reading & text links

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Robertson, Morgan

ROBERTSON, MORGAN (1861-1915). Son of a Great Lakes captain, Morgan Robertson was born in Oswego, New York, on Lake Ontario. He wrote popular sea fiction with the authoritative voice of an expert seaman. Sailing from 1877 to 1886, he first Continue reading & text links

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Riley, James

RILEY, JAMES (1777-1840). While on a voyage from Gibraltar to the Cape Verde Islands during the summer of 1815, Captain James Riley and his crew of the brig Commerce were shipwrecked on the barren coast of the western Sahara, where Continue reading & text links

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Reynolds, J. N.

REYNOLDS, J[EREMIAH]. N. (1799?-1858). Details of the life of J. N. Reynolds are sketchy, and his lingering reputation today is mainly the result of his influence upon major works of Edgar Allan Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym [1838]) Continue reading & text links

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Optic, Oliver (William T. Adams)

[ADAMS, WILLIAM TAYLOR], “OLIVER OPTIC” (1822-1897). Using the pen name “Oliver Optic,” William Taylor Adams spent twenty years as a teacher in Boston schools and wrote popular children’s fiction in the nineteenth century. The publication of The Boat Club: or, The Continue reading & text links

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Nordhoff, Charles, the elder

NORDHOFF, CHARLES, the elder (1830-1901). A journalist, Charles Nordhoff was born in Erwitte, a village in Westphalia, Prussia. At five, he emigrated with his parents to Ohio, where they died. Left an orphan in the care of a family in Continue reading & text links

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Nickerson, Thomas

NICKERSON, THOMAS (1805-1883). At fifteen years old, Thomas Nickerson was the youngest member of the crew of the Nantucket whale-ship Essex when she was rammed and sunk by a whale in the Pacific Ocean, 20 November 1820. In 1876, fifty-five Continue reading & text links

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Morrell, Benjamin

MORRELL, BENJAMIN (1795-1839). Benjamin Morrell, sealing captain and explorer, was born in Rye, New York, the son of a shipbuilder. His early experiences included being twice captured by the British during the War of 1812 and spending over two and Continue reading & text links

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Morrell, Abby Jane

MORRELL, ABBY JANE [WOOD] (1809-l???). The cousin and second wife of Captain Benjamin Morrell, Abby Jane Wood married the captain when she was fifteen. She accompanied him on the last of his four voyages of commerce and exploration, in the Continue reading & text links

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Merwin, Samuel

MERWIN, SAMUEL (1874-1936). Born in Evanston, Illinois, Samuel Merwin attended Northwestern University but did not graduate. His literary career began with the publication of two popularly acclaimed novels, The Short Line War (1899) and Calumet “K” (1901), written in collaboration Continue reading & text links

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Melville, Herman

MELVILLE, HERMAN (1819-1891). More than any other American author, Herman Melville used the sea as setting and concept to create great literature. With broad-ranging and deep philosophical interests, his books are far more than adventure stories. In his works, Melville Continue reading & text links

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Sleeper, John Sherburne (“Hawser Martingale”)

[SLEEPER, JOHN SHERBURNE], “HAWSER MARTINGALE” (1794-1878). An author and journalist from New England, John Sherburne Sleeper first went to sea in 1809 as a cabin boy and assumed his first command in 1821. By 1825 he was captain of an Continue reading & text links

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Maury, Matthew Fontaine

MAURY, MATTHEW FONTAINE (1806-1873). The 1855 publication of Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Physical Geography of the Sea inaugurated the distinct discipline of oceanography, but earlier essays under the pseudonym “Harry Bluff” helped shape reform of the antebellum U.S. Navy. Born in Continue reading & text links

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Lowell, James Russell

LOWELL, JAMES RUSSELL (1819-1891). James Russell Lowell, poet, literary and social critic, editor, abolitionist, scholar of comparative literature, Harvard professor, diplomat, and consummate traveler, frequently crossed the Atlantic to visit Britain and the Continent. On 12 July 1851, he sailed Continue reading & text links

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Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH (1807-1882). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, at a time when that seaport was second in New England only to Boston in total tonnage engaged in maritime trade. Close to half a century later, in Continue reading & text links

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Lodge, George Cabot

LODGE, GEORGE CABOT (1873-1909). Son of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and acquaintance of Edith Wharton, Henry James, and his own biographer, Henry Adams, the poet and verse dramatist George Cabot Lodge was well acquainted with the sea. Growing up in Continue reading & text links

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Little, George

Life on the Ocean, or Twenty Years at Sea (1843) Continue reading & text links

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Lincoln, Joseph Crosby

LINCOLN, JOSEPH C[ROSBY]. (1870-1944). Joseph C. Lincoln, the descendant of a long line of a seafarers, was a prolific author of best-selling verses, stories, and novels that portrayed life along the shore of Cape Cod with nostalgia and humor. The Continue reading & text links

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Larcom, Lucy

LARCOM, LUCY (1824-1893). Lucy Larcom was a prolific and highly regarded writer of descriptive and religious verse, short fiction, and inspirational prose in the second half of the nineteenth century. Born on the Massachusetts North Shore in Beverly, she lived Continue reading & text links

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Hurlbut, Frances B.

HURLBUT, FRANCES [BRINDEL] (1842?-1892). Orphaned by age nine, Frances Hurlbut, nee Brindel, left Pennsylvania for Newport (now Marine City), Michigan, to live with her aunt, Emily Ward. Hurlbut’s only publication, Grandmother’s Stories (1889), recounts Aunt Emily’s tales of their pioneer Continue reading & text links

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Judson, Edward Zane Carroll (“Ned Buntline”)

[JUDSON, EDWARD ZANE CARROLL], “NED BUNTLINE” (1823-1886). Edward Zane Carroll Judson, better known by his pseudonym Ned Buntline, was born on the Atlantic coast in Stamford, New York. The family moved to Bethany, Pennsylvania, and then to Philadelphia about the Continue reading & text links

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Jones, Justin (“Harry Hazel”)

[JONES, JUSTIN] “HARRY HAZEL” (1814-1889). Justin Jones, who wrote under the pseudonym Harry Hazel, authored more than forty dime novels about Boston, war, life at sea, and other adventure. His career as a fiction writer covered the 1840s and 1850s, Continue reading & text links

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Jones, John Paul

JONES, JOHN PAUL (1747-1792). Born in Scotland, John Paul went to sea as an apprentice at age twelve. After inheriting property in Virginia, he added “Jones” to his name and became a lieutenant in the Continental navy in 1775. His Continue reading & text links

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Jewitt, John Rodgers

JEWITT, JOHN RODGERS (1783-1821). An Englishman who served aboard the American merchant vessel Boston, John Jewitt became famous as a “captive” of the Indians of Nootka Sound, off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, when he survived the destruction Continue reading & text links

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