The Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World


Released to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Jamestown’s founding, The Sea Venture provides an informative and dramatic account of the 1609 shipwreck which may have been the basis for Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

Filled with supplies, settlers, and colonial officials to buttress the struggling Virginia colony, the Sea Venture becomes separated from the rest of its fleet during a hurricane and runs aground at Bermuda—a dangerous no-man’s land—and finds an Eden-like paradise. Over ten months later, most of the surviving colonists sail up the James River to find Jamestown virtually deserted, the only remaining inhabitants near death.

Doherty does a creditable job of intertwining the stories of Bermuda and Jamestown, depicting the hardships the settlers faced—starvation, disease, hostile natives, death, multiple mutinies, greed—as well as the triumphs wrought by faith, courage, hard work, and the will to survive in a harsh new world. Such familiar characters as Christopher Newport, Powhatan, John Smith, Pocahontas and John Rolfe, are included, as well as lesser known figures like Sir Thomas Gates, William Strachey, and Alexander Whitaker. A few minor errors exist: e.g., the largest ship of the original three to arrive at Jamestown in 1607 was the Susan Constant, not Susan Comfort (p. 28). That said, this is a solid and enjoyable chronicle of a pivotal event in our nation’s early history.

Illustrations, notes, sources included, but no index.

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(US) $24.95
(CA) $31.00

(US) 0312354533