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  • Published: 3 December 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473545168
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

Shipwreck Of The Whaleship Essex

The true story that inspired the film In the Heart of the Sea

The original true account of the whale attack that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick and the new film In the Heart of the Sea: a thrilling tale of shipwreck and survival - and cannibalism


On 20 November 1820, just south of the equator, the whaling ship Essex, spotted and pursued a shoal of sperm whales. As the crew started harpooning, the largest whale - some 85 feet long - rammed the Essex twice and 'stove in her bows'. What followed was an epic three-month voyage in open boats across storm-tossed seas. Only eight men survived, sustained by eating those who died.

This edition includes Owen Chases's famous account, as well as memoirs by two other crew members and a facsimile of Herman Melville's notes on Chase's narrative.

  • Published: 3 December 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473545168
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

About the author

Owen Chase

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.

Praise for Shipwreck Of The Whaleship Essex

The effect is kaleidoscopic. A vivid portrait emerges of the shipwrecked men's privatations and fundamental moral dilemma: literally to eat or be eaten

Lawrence Norfolk

Chase's book still has an almost Biblical power

Mail on Sunday

An incredibly vivid journal of survival


The reading of this wondrous story...had a surprising effect on me

Herman Melville

When I found myself popping the notes I attach to potential quotes to virtually every page, I realised I might as well just deliver a rousing injunction to read the book for yourselves

Christina Hardyment, Independent

The gripping sea story which helped to inspire Moby-Dick

Christopher Frayling, Observer

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