Dearly Departed, Yet, Returned

Traversing the Nautical Gothic in The Touching and Melancholy Narrative of Marian Moore (1853)

  • Danielle Cofer University of Rhode Island


Scholars have explored the genres of Shipwreck narratives, women’s writings about life at sea, and the nautical Gothic. Bringing these fields together in conversation with Marian Moore’s The Touching and Melancholy Narrative of Marian Moore, the Shipwrecked Female Sailor (1853) reveals tensions between horrifying experiences with shipwreck and subsequent cannibalism at sea and life on land for women in the mid-nineteenth century. Moore details her encounters with death throughout, which ultimately prepare her for the prolonged social death she endures once back on land ensnared in class and gender conventions. The irony of Moore’s narrative is that the threat of the sea proves to be far less harrowing than the entrapment of static domesticity. Instead of being the place of danger and death, the sea becomes a source of knowledge and a sanctuary from the true horror of the social conditions Moore contends with back on land.