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Druett, Joan. Petticoat whalers; whaling wives at sea, 1820-1920.

Univ. Press of New England. 214p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. c2001. 1-58465-159-8. $16.95. SA

Joan Druett's interest in maritime history led her to document the little-known story of the intrepid women who sailed with their husbands, captains of the whaling vessels (1820-1920). This book, a reissue of her 1991 work first published in New Zealand, introduces these "whaling wives" through their letters and journals. The hardships of being the lone female on board, the dangerous voyages and long separations from family, the loss of lives as well as the wild behavior of the crews form a tapestry of seafaring life as seen through women's eyes. Their endurance and valiant attempts at domesticity under adverse circumstances provide a moving chapter in whaling history. Some learned to navigate the vessels alongside their husbands; others gave birth under trying conditions, but many also thrilled to the beauty of the islands and the exotic locales where the ships docked. Some of these women were buried in these far-off places, never to return to their homeland ports. All of them remind the reader that contrary to the mores of the 19th century, these "whaling wives" belied the term "the weaker sex." Maps of the whaling routes would have helped the reader to follow the women's treks. Useful for women's studies collections. Mary T. Gerrity, Camp Springs, MD
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Author:Gerrity, Mary T.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2002
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