Today in History
November 20, 1820
Herman Melville gets an Idea
A year after leaving Nantucket, the whaleship Essex is rammed by a sperm whale in the South Pacific. Twenty crew members survive its subsequent sinking, but twelve of those later perish at sea, and the survivors resort to cannibalism. First mate Owen Chase publishes his tale of the disaster, The Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex in 1821. Twenty years later Herman Melville reads Chase’s story in preparation for writing his own whale of a tale, Moby Dick (1851).
Today's Feature History Article
Gentle giants? New research suggests that male sperm whales may butt heads over females
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