Kipling in Gloucester: The Writing of Captain Courageous

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9780962566042: Kipling in Gloucester: The Writing of Captain Courageous
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Historical account of Rudyard Kipling's visit to Gloucester and the writing of his novel Captain's Courageous.

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From Chapter 1:
It was on his third visit to Gloucester that Rudyard Kipling seriously attracted the attention of the local people. By then he had already written most of the story at his home in Vermont and had come to Gloucester to find some local color for the work. He was then thirty years old and had already achieved stature as one of the most famous writers in the world.

He arrived in Gloucester in the evening of Wednesday, May 20, l896. He had sailed up from Boston in the sloop Venus, a Gloucester fishing boat, and landed at Atlantic Wharf down at the end of Duncan Street.

On the crew of the Venus that day was an East Gloucester fisherman named Isaac M. Joyce. He recounted the story of the trip up from Boston to his first cousin, Gloucester's plumber-playwright, Clayton Stockbridge. Stockbridge, a local plumber who had written an award-winning historical play about Gloucester, decided to send his cousin's story off to "Yankee Magazine." According to Stockbridge the Venus had just unloaded a trip of mackerel at the Boston Fish Pier when Kipling made arrangements for a passage to Gloucester. Captain Dench was not only glad to accommodate him but promised to make a "set" for his benefit, if they happened to sight mackerel on the way down.

It was a slow passage with little wind and a long rolling swell. The vessel was worked down the coast, and eventually the lookout sighted a large school of mackerel, but Kipling had disappeared. The skipper sent one of the crew to tell him that the seine boat was about to be manned and he was welcome to go along. Kipling was found in the Captain's cabin, stretched out on one of the bunks. It was apparent from the greenish hue around his gills that the unsteady footing and the unaccustomed odors aboard the vessel, accumulated from years of carrying millions of pounds of fish, had proved too much for the intrepid creator of Boots.

His answer to the captain's message was typical of the man and, to say the least, tickled the fancy of that rugged crew. After some deliberation, Kipling said weakly, 'Kindly inform the captain I would prefer to lie and meditate.'

Review:

First, let me say that I think Kipling in Gloucester is an absolutely first-rate piece of local history, the outcome of much original research and special knowledge, and interesting throughout." -- Thomas Pinney, Kipling Scholar and Professor of English, Pomona College

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