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About Joan Druett
Call it destiny. In 1984, while exploring the tropical island of Rarotonga, Joan Druett slipped into the hole left by the roots of a large uprooted tree, and at the bottom discovered the grave of a young American whaling wife, who had died at the age of 24 in January 1850. It was a life-changing experience for Joan. Her immediate interest in the subject of whaling captains’ wives at sea was encouraged by a Fulbright fellowship, which led to five months of research in New Bedford and Edgartown, Massachusetts; Mystic, Connecticut; and San Francisco, California. The result was her study of whaling captains’ wives under sail, Petticoat Whalers.
The success of this book and a companion volume, She Was a Sister Sailor, was followed by Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail, which was researched and written during a William Steeple Davis Residency at Orient, Long Island, New York. This last book was given a New York Public Library “Best to Remember” Award, while She Was a Sister Sailor won the John Lyman Award for “Best Book of American Maritime History.” Another study, She Captains, Joan’s groundbreaking work in the field of seafaring women, was also recognized by a L. Byrne Waterman Award.
While on Long Island, Joan Druett was also a consultant for an exhibition called “The Sailing Circle: 19th-Century Seafaring Women from New York,” which was co-sponsored by the Three Village Historical Society and Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, New York, and which received substantial funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This project won the Albert Corey Award, which is infrequently granted by the American Association for State and Local History for works “that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship, and imagination.”
The Stout Fellowship at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, that followed, led to Joan’s study of a disastrous whaling voyage that was commanded by officers from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and crewed by Pacific Islanders. The book that resulted, called In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon, inspired a strong interest in the Pacific Islanders who sailed on Euro-American ships. This led to further research in Australia, the United States, Europe, and the East Indies, funded by Creative New Zealand and the Stout Trust. Her biography of an extraordinary Polynesian star navigator, Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator, which resulted from this, won the general nonfiction prize in the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards, and has been translated into Chinese and French.
Her latest publication is The Notorious Captain Hayes: The Remarkable Story of William Henry “Bully” Hayes, Pirate of the Pacific.
Joan is married to Ron Druett, a highly regarded maritime artist.
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It is 1864, and Captain Thomas Musgrave’s schooner, the Grafton, has just wrecked on Auckland Island, a forbidding piece of land 285 miles south of New Zealand. Battered by year-round freezing rain and constant winds, it is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death.
Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island, another ship runs aground during a storm. Separated by only twenty miles and the island’s treacherous, impassable cliffs, the crews of the Grafton and the Invercauld face the same fate. And yet where the Invercauld’s crew turns inward on itself, fighting, starving, and even turning to cannibalism, Musgrave’s crew bands together to build a cabin and a forge—and eventually, to find a way to escape.
Using the survivors’ journals and historical records, award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett brings to life this extraordinary untold story about leadership and the fine line between order and chaos.
In May 1841, the Massachusetts whaleship Sharon set out for the whaling ground of the northwestern Pacific. A year later, while most of the crew was out hunting, Capt. Howes Norris was brutally murdered. When the men in the whaleboats returned to the ship, they found four crew members on board, three of whom were covered in blood, the other screaming from atop the mast.
Single-handedly, the third officer launched a surprise attack to recapture the Sharon, killing two of the attackers and subduing the other. An American investigation into the murder was never conducted—even when the Sharon returned home three years later, with only four of the original twenty-nine-man crew on board.
Now, an award-winning maritime historian dramatically re-creates the mystery of the ill-fated whaleship—and reveals a voyage filled with savagery under the command of one of the most ruthless captains to sail the high seas.
“When the American whaleship Sharon arrived at Sydney in December 1842, the world first heard of the shocking murder of the captain by several Pacific island natives serving on the crew. Chalking it up to the savage nature of the islanders, no one bothered to investigate. Druett, a widely published maritime historian, retells the familiar story of how the mutineers were overcome but delves deeper into the details of the infamous expedition . . . Druett’s account of the incident will appeal to those looking for a good drama, but also to those analytically minded skeptics inclined to ask questions and dig below the surface.” —Booklist
“Shocking and very satisfying.” —Richard Zack, author of The Pirate Hunter
In The Discovery of Tahiti, Joan Druett follows up her prize-winning biography of the remarkable priestly navigator, Tupaia, by bringing this extraordinary story to life.
Tupaia sailed with Cook from Tahiti, piloted the Endeavour across the South Pacific, and interceded on behalf of the European voyagers with the warrior Maori of New Zealand, interpreting local rituals and ceremonies. Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, is famous for describing the manners and customs of the natives, but much of the credit rightfully belongs to Tupaia. Indeed, he could aptly be called the Pacific's first anthropologist.
Despite all this, Tupaia's colorful tale has never been part of the popular Captain Cook legend. This prize-winning book tells the true story of how Tupaia's contributions changed the history of the Pacific.
FIRST ILLUSTRATED DIGITAL EDITION
Oriental adventurer Captain Rochester spun an entrancing tale to Jerusha, seafaring daughter of Captain Michael Gardiner — a story of a money ship, hidden in the turquoise waters of the South China Sea, which was nothing less than the lost trove of the pirate Hochman. As Jerusha was to find, though, the clues that pointed the way to fabled riches were strange indeed — a haunted islet on an estuary in Borneo, an obelisk with a carving of a rampant dragon, a legend of kings and native priests at war, and of magically triggered tempests that swept warriors upriver. And even if the clues were solved, the route to riches was tortuous, involving treachery, adultery, murder, labyrinthine Malayan politics … and, ultimately, Jerusha’s own arranged marriage.
Joan Druett, bestselling author of many award-winning books, including Island of the Lost, Tupaia, She Captains, and the Wiki Coffin mystery series, paints an epic drama of fortune-hunting in the South China Sea during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The Money Ship is a fast-moving novel on a sprawling canvas that spans three oceans and a myriad of exotic ports. As the pages turn, Jerusha voyages from the smuggling and fishing port of Lewes, Sussex to Boston in its glittering heyday, then back to newly settled Singapore, until her quest for love and pirate treasure comes to a spine-chilling climax in the benighted lands of Borneo.
Wiki Coffin, linguist aboard the U.S. Exploring Expedition, the famous voyage meant to put America at the forefront of 19th century scientific discovery, brings many skills to his job. Whether he's translating native languages, assisting his good friend Captain George Rochester as unofficial first mate, or upholding the rule of law as deputy to the sheriff of the port of Virginia, Wiki is never far from the action aboard the seven ships that make up the expedition.
But when they encounter a wrecked sealing ship and its desperate crew on the shoals of remote, uninhabited Shark Island, Wiki has little idea just how many of his skills are about to be put to the test. As soon as they board the wreck, a dead body turns up with a dagger firmly inserted between its shoulder blades. And it's not just any dead body: the victim of the brutal murder is none other than the enigmatic captain of the doomed voyage. What's more, Wiki's colleague and nemesis Lieutenant Forsythe is suspected of the crime.
Knowing full well that Forsythe is capable of such violence, Wiki nonetheless believes him innocent and is duty-bound to prove it for the good of the expedition. Was the murder a case of mutinous sealers taking the law into their own hands? Did the secrets of several mysterious long-ago voyages finally come back to haunt a dishonest and dishonorable captain? Or is Shark Island home to something more sinister than a few lonely goats? Something isn't quite right about the crew of the wrecked ship, and Wiki will stop at nothing to find out just what it is that they're hiding, and, in the process, unmask a vicious killer.
And by her side hung a glittering sword
In her belt two daggers, well armed for war
Was this female smuggler
Was this female smuggler who never feared a scar.
If a "hen frigate" was any ship carrying a captain's wife, then a "she captain" is a bold woman distinguished for courageous enterprise in the history of the sea. "She captains," who infamously possessed the "bodies of women and the souls of men," thrilled and terrorized their shipmates, doing "deeds beyond the valor of women." Some were "bold and crafty pirates with broadsword in hand." Others were sirens, too, like the Valkyria Princess Alfhild, whom the mariners made rover-captain for her beauty. Like their male counterparts, these astonishing women were drawn to the ocean's beauty -- and its danger.
In her inimitable, yarn-spinning style, award-winning historian Joan Druett tells us what life was like for the women who dared to captain ships of their own, don pirates' garb, and perform heroic and hellacious deeds on the high seas. We meet Irish raider Grace "Grania" O'Malley -- sometimes called "the bald Grania" because she cut her hair short like a boy's -- who commanded three galleys and two hundred fighting men. Female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read were wanted by the law. Armed to the teeth with cutlasses and pistols, they inspired awe and admiration as they swaggered about in fancy hats and expensive finery, killing many a man who cowered cravenly before them.
Lovelorn Susan "Put on a jolly sailor's dress/And daubed her hands with tar/To cross the raging sea/On board a man of war" to be near her William. Others disguised themselves for economic reasons. In 1835, Ann Jane Thornton signed on as a ship's steward to earn the fair wage of nine dollars per month. When it was discovered that she was a woman, the captain testified that Jane was a capital sailor, but the crew had been suspicious of her from the start, "because she would not drink her grog like a regular seaman."
In 1838, twenty-two-year-old Grace Darling led the charge to rescue nine castaways from the wreck of the Forfarshire (the Titanic of its day). "I'll save the crew!" she cried, her courageous pledge immortalized in a torrent of books, songs, and poems. Though "she captains" had been sailing for hundreds of years by the turn of the twentieth century, Scotswoman Betsey Miller made headlines by weathering "storms of the deep when many commanders of the other sex have been driven to pieces on the rocks."
From the warrior queens of the sixth century B.C. to the women shipowners influential in opening the Northwest Passage, Druett has assembled a real-life cast of characters whose boldness and bravado will capture popular imagination. Following the arc of maritime history from the female perspective, She Captains' intrepid crew sails forth into a sea of adventure.
But fate conspires against her. Abigail is packed off to Puritanical relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to learn proper womanly decorum. She does her best to conform, despite being involved in controversial events, including the Women’s Rights movement, and a sensational murder trial, but news of her father’s brutal murder drives her to escape by entering into a marriage of convenience.
Her legacy is the ownership of the brig she grew up on, and a puzzling rhyme that is the clue to a mysterious fortune. But, before she can solve the puzzle and collect her inheritance, Abigail must outwit hostile seamen, a mystery murderer, and her own attractive, obstinate husband.
The year is 1838, and after more than ten years in the planning, the famous United States Exploring Expedition is set to launch into uncharted waters from the coast of Virginia. A convoy of seven ships filled with astronomers, mapmakers, naturalists, and the sailors charged with getting them around the world, the "Ex. Ex." is finally underway, with much fanfare.
Aboard the convoy as ship's linguist is Wiki Coffin. Half New Zealand Maori and half American, Wiki speaks numerous languages and is expected to help the crew navigate the Pacific islands that are his native heritage. But just before departure Wiki, subject to the unfortunate bigotry of the time, is arrested for a vicious murder he didn't commit.
The convoy sails off, but just before the ships are out of reach Wiki is exonerated, set free to catch up with his ship and sail on. The catch: the local sheriff is convinced that the real murderer is aboard one of the seven ships of the expedition, and Wiki is deputized to identify the killer and bring him to justice. Full of the evocative maritime detail and atmosphere that have won her numerous awards for her nonfiction, Joan Druett's A Watery Grave is the mystery debut of a masterful maritime writer.
Wiki Coffin plays many parts on the U.S. Exploring Expedition---sailor, linguist, navigator, and, as half-Maori, cultural go-between. But then the brig Swallow reaches the coast of Patagonia, an area infamous for its rough gauchos and revolutionary spirit, and he must take on his other role, that of agent of U.S. law and order.
A New England whaler shows up, desperate to find the devious trader who has cheated him of a thousand dollars and a schooner. Wiki is assigned to find the missing ship, only to follow a trail of clues to a dead body, half-buried in a hill of salt, its skull picked clean by vultures. The adventure unravels in the impoverished village of El Carmen de Patagones, where the threat of French invasion is imminent, and business is at a standstill under the orders of General de Rosas, the tyrant of Buenos Aires.
Wiki must risk both life and reputation in pursuit of a vicious and determined killer who has set his sights on another target: the U.S. Exploring Expedition itself.