20 Nov: The Real Moby Dick

In this episode we tell the tale of ill-fated whale-ship The Essex, which was rammed by an 85-foot sperm whale on 20th November, 1820. The incident inspired Herman Melville’s sea-faring novel, Moby Dick.

Left to fend for themselves in tiny whaling boats, the young crew had to make terrible choices in order to preserve their own survival – including how and when to eat each other.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why it was not only whales, but also tortoises and mockingbirds that had to fear the crews from Nantucket; consider Captain Pollard’s position as a ‘Jonah’ on his return to New England; and reveal how family ties played their part in the crew’s grizzly dilemma…

CONTENT WARNING: description of cannibalism, animal cruelty.

Further Reading:

• ‘The Essex Disaster’ (American Heritage, 1983): https://www.americanheritage.com/essex-disaster#2

• ‘The Whaleship Essex Disaster And The True Story Behind ‘Moby Dick’’ (All Thats Interesting, 2020): https://allthatsinteresting.com/essex-ship

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