Tag Archives: Atlantic Ocean

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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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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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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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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Yang, Jeffrey

by Jaehyun Jeong (2015) YANG, JEFFREY (1974-) Jeffrey Yang is an American poet, translator, and editor best known for his books of poetry An Aquarium (2008) and Vanishing-Line (2011). Born in Escondido, California, Yang attended the University of California San Diego. With an initial interest 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, 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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, 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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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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Smith, John

SMITH, JOHN (1580-1631). Although born in Lincolnshire, England, Captain John Smith initiated many traditions in American literature, among them geography, autobiography, and history. A True Relation (1608), his earliest account of his experiences in the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland 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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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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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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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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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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Nelson, James L.

NELSON, JAMES L. (1962- ). Born in Lewiston, Maine, James L. Nelson, a former professional square-rig sailor, traces his love of the sea to his earliest memories when he chose boats and model ships for boyhood toys. In college Nelson 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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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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Mason, F. Van Wyck

MASON, F[RANCIS]. VAN WYCK (1901-1978). World War I and II veteran, importer, and ultimately writer, F. Van Wyck Mason was born in Boston on 11 November 1901. He was awarded a B.S. from Harvard University in 1924 after serving briefly Continue reading & text links

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Martin, William

MARTIN, WILLIAM (1950- ). History and the sea are the subjects of the fiction of William Martin, contemporary novelist and screenwriter. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and earning a B.A. from Harvard University (1972) and an M.F.A. from the University of Continue reading & text links

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Lowell, Robert, Jr.

LOWELL, ROBERT, JR [TRAILL SPENCE]. (1917-1977). Robert Lowell, the son of a naval officer, recalled in the poem, “Commander Lowell: 1887-1950” (Life Studies, 1959) how his father, in his postnaval life, would boom “Anchors Aweigh” in the bathtub and would 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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Le Guin, Ursula K.

LE GUIN, URSULA K[ROEBER]. (1929-2018). Born in Berkeley, California, Ursula K. Le Guin earned her B.A. at Radcliffe College in 1951 and her M.A. in French and Renaissance literature at Columbia University in 1952. Author of over fifty books of Continue reading & text links

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King, Stephen

KING, STEPHEN [EDWIN] (1947- ). Although Stephen King sets much of his best-selling fiction in Maine, the New England coastal state of his birth and residence, he rarely writes about the sea. King has written dozens of horror, fantasy, and Continue reading & text links

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Kent, Rockwell

KENT, ROCKWELL (1882-1971). Rockwell Kent, painter, writer, adventurer, graphic artist, and political activist, was born in Tarrytown Heights, New Jersey. He trained as an architect at Columbia University and studied painting under William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, Abbott Thayer, and 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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Johnson, Irving

JOHNSON, IRVING [McCLURE] (1905-1991). Irving Johnson grew up on a farm in the Connecticut River valley of Massachusetts. Inspired by Jack London’s novels, he had an unswerving desire to go to sea and work with his hands. Johnson spent summers Continue reading & text links

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James, Henry

JAMES, HENRY (1843-1916). Henry James made nineteen Atlantic crossings and lived for much of his life in seacoast cities and villages. In his longer fiction, scenes near the English Channel in What Maisie Knew (1897) and in Venice in The Continue reading & text links

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Irving, Washington

IRVING, WASHINGTON (1783-1859). The first American to succeed as a professional author, Washington Irving was born in New York City in the last year of the American Revolution. Although he is best known today as the author of “Rip Van Continue reading & text links

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Harte, Bret

HARTE, [FRANCIS] BRET[T] (1836-1902). Born in Albany, New York, Bret Harte rose to literary prominence as editor of the Overland Monthly (first pub. 1868), a San Francisco-based magazine of western lore. In this forum Harte produced his best sketches, stories, Continue reading & text links

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Green, Paul

GREEN, PAUL [ELIOT] (1894-1981). A prolific playwright and poet whose literary career spanned several decades and genres, Paul Green is remembered chiefly for his dramatizations of southern folklore and customs and the plight of the African American in particular, in Continue reading & text links

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Equiano, Olaudah

by Arnold Schmidt (2000, rev. 2021) EQUIANO, OLAUDAH (1745-1797). By the time he died at the end of the eighteenth century, mariner, author, and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano had likely become the wealthiest and most famous Black man in the Atlantic Continue reading & text links

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