Tag Archives: 20th Century

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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, Tennessee

WILLIAMS, TENNESSEE [THOMAS LANIER] (1911-1983). Winner of four New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes for his plays, Tennessee Williams is most identified with the American South. He was born in Mississippi and spent his early childhood Continue reading & text links

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White, E. B.

WHITE, E[LWYN]. B[ROOKS]. (1899-1983). Best known for his articles in The New Yorker and his children’s books, E. B. White reflected significantly upon his relationship with the sea in two important essays, “The Years of Wonder” and “The Sea and Continue reading & text links

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Warner, William W.

WARNER, WILLIAM W[HITESIDES]. (1920-2008). Naturalist-author William W. Warner was born in New York City. From 1944 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant, junior grade, and was awarded a Navy Commendation Continue reading & text links

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Walcott, Derek

WALCOTT, DEREK [ALTON] (1930-2017). Winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in literature, Derek Walcott identifies in his life and work two primary inspirations: the Caribbean Sea and his mixed-race heritage. Born and raised in the harbor city of Castries, St. Continue reading & text links

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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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Urquhart, Jane

URQUHART, JANE (1949- ). Jane Urquhart was born near Lake Nipigon, Ontario, north of Lake Superior, where she spent the first five years of her life. Vivid memories of extended time on the north shore of Lake Superior drew her 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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Theroux, Paul

THEROUX, PAUL [EDWARD] (1941- ). Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts, and received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts in 1963. Having taught in Malawi, Uganda, and Singapore, he is a prolific novelist and travel writer who divides 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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Stevens, Wallace

STEVENS, WALLACE (1879-1955). Wallace Stevens is one of the most influential American poets of the twentieth century, whose central concern is with the relationship of the human imagination and the world of physical reality. Stevens grew up in Pennsylvania and Continue reading & text links

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Steinbeck, John

by Susan F. Beegel (2000) STEINBECK, JOHN [ERNST] (1902-1968). John Steinbeck, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in literature, was born in Salinas, California. As a child, he divided his time between his family’s home in the rich agricultural land of Continue reading & text links

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Sobel, Dava

By Marija Miklavčič (2020) SOBEL, DAVA (1947 – ). Dava Sobel grew up in the Bronx, NY, and received her college degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. A journalist and science writer, Sobel has written six Continue reading & text links

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Snyder, Gary

SNYDER, GARY [SHERMAN] (1930- ). Born in San Francisco, Gary Snyder grew up among the forests, mountains, and shores of the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of Reed College (1951), Snyder first went to sea during the summer of 1948 and Continue reading & text links

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Snow, Edward Rowe

SNOW, EDWARD ROWE (1902-1982). A prolific producer of maritime history and lore for popular consumption, Edward Rowe Snow was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University and earned a master’s degree in history from Boston University. Among his 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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Siegel, Robert Harold

SIEGEL, ROBERT HAROLD (1939-2012). Growing up in the Midwest, Robert Harold Siegel also spent time on Long Island’s Jones Beach, cruised the Caribbean, and sailed and whale-watched off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and California. His Whalesong trilogy is Continue reading & text links

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Searls, Hank

SEARLS, HENRY HUNT “HANK,” JR. (1922-2017). Novelist and author of nonfiction and short fiction, Hank Searls was born in San Francisco 10 August 1922. Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1944 with the wartime-accelerated class of 1945, he remained Continue reading & text links

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Santayana, George

SANTAYANA, GEORGE [JORGE AUGUSTIN NICOLAS RUIZ DE] (1863-1962). The Spanish-born American idealist-philosopher George Santayana drew on his frequent Atlantic crossings in forming concepts of the world and himself. He also used shipboard experience when developing abstract argument and inventing the Continue reading & text links

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Sandburg, Carl

SANDBURG, CARL [AUGUST] (1878-1967). Carl Sandburg, poet, historian, journalist, novelist, labor organizer, folksinger, and collector of American dialect, was born to Swedish immigrant parents in Galesburg, Illinois. Sandburg early understood the beauty, power, and destructiveness of water. He experienced the Continue reading & text links

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Rudloe, Jack

RUDLOE, JACK [J.] (1943- ). Born in New York, Jack Rudloe moved to Florida as a boy and began his self-education as a marine biologist. In 1964 he founded the Gulf Coast Specimen Company of Panacea, Florida, which collects marine 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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Roberts, Kenneth

ROBERTS, KENNETH [LEWIS] (1885-1957). Chronicling the lives of Maine coastal families in most of his distinguished historical novels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Kenneth Roberts acquired and put to use an impressive and detailed knowledge of nautical matters. Continue reading & text links

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Roark, Garland (“George Garland”)

[ROARK, GARLAND], “GEORGE GARLAND” (1904-1985). Born in Groesbeck, Texas, Garland Roark spent the first two decades of his work life on the advertising staffs of various retail stores in Texas, promoting everything from groceries to jewelry. In 1946 he launched Continue reading & text links

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Riesenberg, Felix

RIESENBERG, FELIX (1879-1939). Felix Riesenberg was one of the most important figures in American literature of the sea during the 1920s and 1930s; his literary contributions were preceded by many years of first-hand sea experience during the final transitional years Continue reading & text links

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Ricketts, Edward F.

RICKETTS, EDWARD F[LANDERS]. (1897-1948). Edward F. Ricketts, marine biologist and ecologist, was John Steinbeck’s collaborator on Sea of Cortez (1941) and the model for “Doc,” protagonist of Steinbeck’s Monterey novels Cannery Row (1945) and Sweet Thursday (1954), and for “Friend Continue reading & text links

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Richard, Mark

RICHARD, MARK (1955- ). Author of the sea novel Fishboy (1993), Mark Richard (pronounced ree-SHARD) has been, at different times in his life, disc jockey, newspaperman, photographer, and private investigator. As a young man, Richard took time off from his Continue reading & text links

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Rich, Adrienne

RICH, ADRIENNE [CECILE] (1929-2012). The author of twenty books of poems and four prose works, Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore. “Diving into the Wreck” (1972), a poem frequently anthologized, contains her fullest, most dramatic reference to the sea. In Continue reading & text links

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Rice, Elmer

RICE, ELMER (1892-1967). Born Elmer Reizenstein, the playwright Elmer Rice is best known for his realistic and expressionistic dramas of urban life. However, he turned to the sea for two of his plays. Between Two Worlds (first perf. 1934; pub. Continue reading & text links

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Ratigan, William O.

RATIGAN, WILLIAM 0. (1910-1984). Born to a Great Lakes steamboat engineer in Detroit and later adopted by an Ottawa tribe chief, William Ratigan called Michigan his home. This Great Lakes historian’s writings celebrate ordinary Americans who made big names for Continue reading & text links

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Olson, Toby

OLSON, [MERLE THEODORE] TOBY (1937- ). Poet and novelist Toby Olson was born in Berwyn, Illinois, but spent much of his childhood moving around the United States. This constant movement instilled a theme of travel into his work, particularly his Continue reading & text links

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Olson, Charles

OLSON, CHARLES [JOHN] (1910-1970). The poet Charles Olson was born and raised in the inland city of Worcester, Massachusetts, but the family always spent summers in the fishing port of Gloucester; widowed in 1935, his mother provided a permanent base Continue reading & text links

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Oliver, Mary

OLIVER, MARY (1935-2019). A popular and highly acclaimed American poet, recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mary Oliver composed numerous lyric poems set on coastal Cape Cod. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Oliver began writing poems Continue reading & text links

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Ogilvie, Elisabeth

OGILVIE, ELISABETH [MAY] (1917-2006). Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and soon thereafter uprooted to Maine, Elisabeth Ogilvie gained critical and popular attention for her first novel, High Tide at Noon (1944). The novel and its sequels, Storm Tide (1945) and The Continue reading & text links

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