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‘The Shipwreck’ was written by the Scottish poet and sailor William Falconer (21 February 1732 – December 1769). Born in Edinburgh, Falconer became a sailor, serving on various ships from a midshipman, to purser. Falconer was one of the three survivors of a trading ship on voyage from Alexandria to Venice when it was wrecked, using the experience he recounts in the poem the final voyage of the merchant ship Britannia and her crew. The poem not only details the gothic horrors of a shipwreck, but also can be read as instructions for the sailing and management of an 18th century ship. Falconer was lost at sea in 1769 while serving as purser on the frigate Aurora when it was lost after rounding the treacherous Cape of Good Hope.


William Falconer. The Shipwreck. 1762

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