Who knew what tales of woe could hide in a little rare book from the 1830’s? A new addition to the collection at the G.W. Blunt White Library is only about 18 pages long and measures, in size, about 3 inches by 5 inches. But in it are three tales of shipwreck, the most gruesome of which is illustrated here. The book is so tender that we decided to photograph it immediately to make it available digitally, since the binding is so tight that just opening it can do damage to it. Thankfully, not the kind of damage that has been done to a few of the shipmates in the picture. This particular story recounts the hardships of the crew of the ship ANNE and MARY of Galway in 1750 and is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the whaleship ESSEX in that crew members drew lots to see who would become the first supper for the rest of the gang. Whether the story is true (fake news anyone?) has yet to be determined, although it, and the two other stories of shipwrecks bound along with it, seems to have been lifted verbatim from the Mariners Chronicle, another book of shipwreck stories, from 1826.
Sensationalism in print sold just as well in the early 19th century as it does now. Fine young cannibals, indeed!