Captain Ahab Had a Wife New England Women and the Whalefishery, 1720-1870 (Paperback)
|Author: Lisa Norling|
|A social history that uncovers the lives of maritime women in New England villages whose men were whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Norling draws from a variety of sources--including women''s and men''s letters and diaries, shipowners'' records, church records, newspapers and magazines, censuses, and city directories to uncover the women''s often poignant and painful stories.|
From the Publisher:
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the whaling industry in New England sent hundreds of ships and thousands of men to distant seas on voyages lasting up to five years. In Captain Ahab Had a Wife, Lisa Norling taps a rich vein of sources--including women's and men's letters and diaries, shipowners' records, Quaker meeting minutes and other church records, newspapers and magazines, censuses, and city directories--to reconstruct the lives of the "Cape Horn widows" left behind onshore.
Norling begins with the emergence of colonial whalefishery on the island of Nantucket and then follows the industry to mainland New Bedford in the nineteenth century, tracking the parallel shift from a patriarchal world to a more ambiguous Victorian culture of domesticity. Through the sea-wives' compelling and often poignant stories, Norling exposes the painful discrepancies between gender ideals and the reality of maritime life and documents the power of gender to shape both economic development and individual experience.Describes the social conditions for women, who, during the whaling industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were commonly left alone while their husbands worked on the seas for up to five years at a time.
Using letters, diaries, and shipping records from the period, Lisa Norling writes about the lives of the women left behind when their men went to sea on whalers.
'[A] thoughtful study. [Norling] has made full use of the vast archive of women's papers that, willy nilly, were collected along with those of their men...." - Allen Mawer 02/02/2001