A friend has just returned from the antipodes, bearing a wonderful gift – this book by New Zealand historian Joan Druett. Petticoat Whalers, Whaling Wifes at Sea 1820 – 1920 is a fascinating read, with quotes from letters and diaries, and illustrated with contemporary photos and drawings. Aficionados of Hitty – her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field will remember that Hitty in the book went to sea on a whaling ship. She was accompanied by Phoebe Preble (daughter of the Captain), and her family .
In this picture (page 28) you see little Harriet Pierce aged 8, one of several children who kept journals, or wrote later reminiscences of their experiences! Some of their entries are endearingly ordinary “…the baby is so full of mischief…”
The human became absorbed in disgraceful drinking riots, greasy luck and gamming; boiling dougnuts in try-pots, wearing Bloomer costume, and the difficulties of drying laundry on board ship, but adventurous Tansy began getting ideas…
Druett, Joan (1991), Petticoat Whalers – Whaling Wives at Sea 1820 – 1920, Collins Publishers, New Zealand ISBN 1 86950 043 1