A Brave Vessel

In which I complete my goal to read five non-fiction books that caught my fancy (#87).

Last month, I read my fifth non-fiction book, allowing me to COMPLETE this goal! While I was looking for another book at the library, the hubs pointed out A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I do love me a long title — and this one sums up the subject matter pretty well.

It is the story of the Sea Venture, the flagship of a fleet which the Virginia Company sent with men, women, children, and supplies to relieve the new Jamestown settlement. The fleet became separated in a hurricane, during which the Sea Venture wrecked on an island of Bermuda. This actually worked out pretty well for them: all of the passengers and crew made it safely to the island, and the company only lost a handful of people during their time as castaways. The rest of the fleet, on the other hand, continued on to Jamestown, arriving just in time for the Starving Time, ultimately losing most of the passengers to starvation and disease.

An aspiring writer sent back an account of the shipwreck in the hopes of gaining both the interest of a patron and the Virginia Company. This, along with two accounts from sailors on the ship, served as a source for Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest. While this seems to be an accepted fact, the evidence has largely been lost. So that section of the book was slightly less extensive than I’d hoped.

Actually, I thought the book contained a bit too much speculation in all areas. I’m not a big fan of “she must have felt” and “he surely recognized” in my history. But it was an enjoyable story and a nice, quick read.

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2 thoughts on “A Brave Vessel

  1. This is going to be a totally lame comment, but I’m confused… How did the castaways rescue Jamestown if they were stuck in Bermuda. It doesn’t sound like the rest of the fleet helped Jamestown much if they arrived for the Starving Time.

    Did the castaways get it together and save Jamestown later?

    I wish you had given this a better review. It’s like a real life Gilligan’s Island!

    • I wish I had given it a clearer review! Yes, they made two new, smaller boats, and sailed from Bermuda to Jamestown. They brought pigs and some supplies from Bermuda, which didn’t last long, but was something. “Rescue” was probably strong.

      There are a bunch of other books about it — maybe one of those would be a better Gilliagan’s Island comparison!

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