Tag Archives: Pacific Ocean

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Norris, Frank

NORRIS, [BENJAMIN] FRANKLIN] (1870-1902). Although his short life was adventurous enough, including trips to Africa’s Transvaal and Cuba during the Spanish-American War, Frank Norris’ disposition to set two of his less successful novels partly at sea probably arose from his Continue reading & text links

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Nordhoff, Charles, the younger AND James Norman Hall

NORDHOFF, CHARLES [BERNARD] the younger (1887-1947) AND JAMES NORMAN HALL (1887-1951). Writers Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall were born the same year but worlds apart, Nordhoff in London of American parents and Hall in Colfax, Iowa. They met during 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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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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Moore, Christopher

MOORE, CHRISTOPHER K. (1957- ). Christopher Moore has lived on the California coast for over twenty years, using his experiences on diving and fishing boats around the world in two offbeat novels. Island of the Sequined Love Nun (1997) focuses Continue reading & text links

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Michener, James A.

MICHENER, JAMES A[LBERT]. (1907-1997). Prolific novelist James A. Michener was rescued as a foundling by a widow living in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Years later, having taught high school and college, Michener found his nascent career as a textbook editor interrupted by 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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Mason, Arthur

MASON, ARTHUR (1876-1955). Born in Ireland, Mason went to sea at age seventeen to embark on a career that would last twenty-four years. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1899. For much of his career he 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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Kesey, Ken

KESEY, KEN [ELTON] (1935-2001). Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, and soon moved to Oregon, where he now lives. He developed a love of hunting and fishing as a child, and much of his writing employs the lush 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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Jeffers, Robinson

JEFFERS, [JOHN] ROBINSON (1887-1962). Robinson Jeffers, best known for his verse narratives set on California’s rugged northern coast, was born in Pennsylvania. In 1903 he moved with his family to Los Angeles and entered Occidental College, where he studied geology, 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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Gann, Ernest K.

GANN, ERNEST K[ELLOGG]. (1910-1991). Known primarily for his books in the field of aviation literature, Ernest K. Gann wrote about seafaring in Twilight for the Gods (1956) and Song of the Sirens (1968). Twilight for the Gods is an engaging Continue reading & text links

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Eberhart, Richard

EBERHART, RICHARD [GHORMLEY] (1904-2005). Richard Eberhart is the author of some twenty-six volumes of poetry, from A Bravery of Earth (1930), to Maine Poems (1989). Throughout his career he has utilized nautical images and themes, many of which derive from Continue reading & text links

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Delano, Amasa

DELANO, AMASA (1763-1823). Amasa Delano, whose Voyages and Travels (1817) was the source for Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” (1855), was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts. After serving briefly in the Continental army during the American Revolution, Delano began a lifelong career Continue reading & text links

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Chase, Owen

CHASE, OWEN (1796-1869). Author of Narrative of the Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex, of Nantucket (1821), Owen Chase was first mate of the Essex when it was stove and sunk by a whale in the Pacific Ocean, 20 November 1820. The unprecedented whale attack and the Continue reading & text links

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Calvin, Jack

CALVIN, JACK (1901-1985). Jack Calvin was well acquainted with the Pacific coast from Monterey north. His first two novels, Square-Rigged (1929) and Fisherman 28 (1930), are based on his experience sailing from San Francisco to the Bering Sea. After leaving his position as a Continue reading & text links

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Binns, Archie

BINNS, ARCHIE [FRED] (1899-1971). Archie Binns, novelist and historian of the northwestern United States, is best known for his critically acclaimed novel Lightship (1934). Based partly on Binns’ own experiences at age eighteen aboard the Umatilla Reef Lightship off Cape Flattery, Washington, the story Continue reading & text links

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Adams, Bertram Martin

ADAMS, BERTRAM MARTIN [BILL ADAMS] ( 1879-1953 ). Bill Adams was born in England to American parents. He left college to go to sea at age seventeen in a career that lasted four or five years and logged seven passages Continue reading & text links

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