A Brave Vessel: Book summary and reviews of A Brave Vessel by Hobson Woodward

A Brave Vessel

The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare'sThe Tempest

By Hobson Woodward

A Brave Vessel
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2009,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

In 1609, aspiring writer William Strachey set sail aboard the Sea Venture, bound for the New World. Caught in a hurricane, the ship separated from its fleet and wrecked on uninhabited Bermuda, a bountiful island paradise its passengers would inhabit for nearly a year before reaching their intended destination, the famine-stricken colony of Jamestown. Strachey's meticulous account of the wreck, the castaways' time on Bermuda, and their arrival in a devastated Jamestown was read by his contemporaries and remains among the most vivid writings of the early colonial period. Following the life of this ordinary man, Hobson Woodward tells one of the neglected but defining stories of America's founding.

Strachey had literary aspirations and sought to capitalize on his epic experience, but his writings did not bring him the acclaim he sought. Only in the hands of another William would his tale of the wreck and its aftermath make history as The Tempest. A Brave Vessel is the fascinating account of a near-miss in the settling of Virginia, the true story behind one of Shakespeare's great plays, and the tragedy of the man who failed as an author but who contributed to the creation of a masterpiece.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A skillfully written history of the trials of some the earliest American colonists." - Kirkus Reviews

"Although the Sea Venture's link to The Tempest has been previously explored, Woodward deepens our understanding while extracting a vivid and all-too-human drama from 17th-century texts." - Library Journal

"[F]ascinating fodder for the committed Shakespearean source hunter." - Publishers Weekly

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Hobson Woodward is associate editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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