The Voyage of Richard Castelman (1726): a new document for transatlantic literary studies

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

This essay contains a reappraisal of the shipwreck and travel narrative The Voyage of Richard Castelman (1726). New evidence proves that the narrative is based on the real experiences of the English trader and theatre manager Richard Castelman (d. 1746), whose existence is confirmed here for the first time. The narrative contains new information about transatlantic life in the 1700s which has been overlooked while the narrative was considered fictional. It sheds new light on the colonial management of Bermuda, early life in Charlestown and Philadelphia, and the history of the Quakers in Virginia. Castelman’s Voyage took on a previously unobserved afterlife when it was incorporated into The History of the Captivity and Sufferings of Mrs. Maria Martin (1807), an important document in the history of slavery and the American perception of Islam. This essay also considers the literary significance of Castelman’s narrative. It is argued that he used the language of prose fiction to describe lived experience in a way that has not been properly accounted for in scholarly discussions of the relationship between fact and fiction in travel writing of the eighteenth century.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467–488
Number of pages22
JournalThe Review of English Studies
Volume70
Issue number295
Early online date9 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019