Petticoat Whalers

A Lovely Gift

A Lovely Gift

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 .


Little Girls on Whaling Ships

Little Girls on Whaling Ships

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…”

Dreams of sailing

Dreams of sailing

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…

I recommend:

Druett, Joan (1991), Petticoat Whalers – Whaling Wives at Sea 1820 – 1920, Collins Publishers, New Zealand  ISBN 1 86950 043 1


6 thoughts on “Petticoat Whalers

  1. Oh yes, very interesting. And it leads me to wonder if my HItty Madison would like a whale themed frock…or at least an apron. Thank you for the inspiration And of course for another great chapter with Tansy. Oh yes, I really like her little ship in a bottle..that is so sweet!

    • I think any Hitty would like a whale-themed frock, or apron! I have a scrap somewhere, but never seem to have five minutes together any more in which to sew one! Isn’t that the cutest sailboat in a bottle you ever saw? I have had that for years and years, long before I had any Hittys to admire it!

  2. Nice to see Tansy getting to be quite an adventurous hitty. So true, Hitty did go to sea on a whaling ship. Will try and get Joan Druett’s book. Looks like it will be an interesting read.

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