Owen Chase was born in 1797 and worked as a whaler in Nantucket. In November 1820, the whale ship Essex, of which Chase was First Mate, was struck and sunk by a sperm whale. His subsequent account of the three-month-long ordeal that followed was published in 1821 and inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. Afterwards, Chase continued to work as a whaler, embarking on several further expeditions until 1840. Despite many years at sea he married four times during this period. Chase’s latter years were haunted by memories of the disaster and he was eventually institutionalised. He died in 1869.