1620 – Speedwell leaves Delfshaven to bring pilgrims to America by way of England.
Speedwell was a 60-ton pinnace that, along with Mayflower, transported the Pilgrims and was the smaller of the two ships. A vessel of the same name and size traveled to the New World seventeen years prior as the flagship of the first expedition of Martin Pring.
Speedwell was built in 1577, under the name Swiftsure, as part of English preparations for war against Spain. She participated in the fight against the Spanish Armada. During the Earl of Essex’s 1596 Azores expedition she served as the ship of his second in command, Sir Gelli Meyrick. After hostilities with Spain ended, she was decommissioned in 1605, and renamed Speedwell.
The Leiden Separatists, a Captain Blossom, bought the Speedwell in Holland, and embarked from Delfshaven on 22 July 1620. They then sailed under the command of Captain Reynolds to Southampton, England to meet the sister ship, Mayflower, which had been chartered by merchant investors (again Captain Blossom). In Southampton they joined with other Separatists and the additional colonists hired by the investors. The Speedwell was already leaking. The ships lay at anchor in Southampton almost two weeks while the Speedwell was being repaired and the group had to sell some of their belongings, food and stores, to cover costs and port fees.
The two ships began the voyage on 5 August 1620, but Speedwell was found to be taking on water, and the two ships put into Dartmouth for repairs. On the second attempt, Mayflower and Speedwell sailed about 100 leagues (about 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi)) beyond Land’s End in Cornwall, but Speedwell was again found to be taking on water. Both vessels returned to Dartmouth. The Separatists decided to go on to America on Mayflower. According to Bradford, the Speedwell was sold at auction in London, and after being repaired made a number of successful voyages for her new owners. At least two of her passengers, Captain Thomas Blossom and a son, returned to Leiden.
Prior to the voyage the Speedwell had been refitted in Delfshaven and had two masts. Nathaniel Philbrick theorizes that the crew used a mast that was too big for the ship, and that the added stress caused holes to form in the hull. William Bradford wrote that the “overmasting” strained the ship’s hull, but attributes the main cause of her leaking to actions on the part of the crew. Passenger Robert Cushman wrote from Dartmouth in August 1620 that the leaking was caused by a loose board approximately two feet long.
Eleven people from Speedwell boarded Mayflower, leaving 20 people to return to London (including Cushman) while a combined company of 102 continued the voyage. For a third time, Mayflower headed for the New World. She left Plymouth on 6 September 1620 and entered Cape Cod Harbor on 11 November. Speedwell’s replacement, Fortune, eventually followed, arriving at Plymouth Colony one year later on 9 November 1621. Philippe de Lannoy on Speedwell made the trip.
Speedwell in art
In 1837, Robert Walter Weir was commissioned by the United States Congress to paint an historical depiction of the Pilgrims. This painting was placed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda at Washington, D.C. in December 1843. Known as The Embarkation of the Pilgrims, the remarkable 12 by 18 feet (3.7 by 5.5 m) painting is a scene on board the Speedwell while harbored in Delfs [or Delft] Haven, Holland. The historical event dramatized took place on July 22, 1620. Weir would later paint another, much smaller oil on canvas that is now displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The paintings are similar except for lighting and a few minor changes. The 1857 work measures about 4 by 6 feet (1.2 by 1.8 m). The Embarkation of the Pilgrims is depicted on the reverse of the 10,000 dollar bill (Federal Reserve Note) issued in 1918. Only five examples of this bill are known, and “none exist outside of institutional collections.”
Speedwell in fiction
A fiction based on fact novel, A Spurious Brood outlines a possible explanation for the sabotage of Speedwell, based on the true story of Katherine More, whose children were sent to America on board Mayflower. In Hornblower and the Atropos, one of the C. S. Forester novels about fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower, a treasure ship named Speedwell has sunk in Turkey’s Marmorice Bay, and Hornblower’s mission is to recover the treasure from the bottom of the bay. Speedwell is also mentioned several times in battle-action scenes in the historical fiction novel, Armada: A Novel, written by Charles Gidley Wheeler and published in 1987.
1916 – Anne Hébert, Canadian author and poet (d. 2000)
Anne Hébert, CC OQ (pronounced [an eˈbɛʁ] in French) (August 1, 1916 – January 22, 2000), was a French Canadian author and poet. She won Canada’s top literary honor, the Governor General’s Award, three times, twice for fiction and once for poetry.
Anne Hébert was born in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault (name later changed to Sainte-Catherine-de-Portneuf, and in 1984 to Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier), Quebec. Her father, Maurice Hébert, was a poet and literary critic. She was a cousin and childhood friend of modernist poet Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.
She began writing poems and stories at a young age, and “found her work being published in a variety of periodicals by the time she was in her early twenties.” Les Songes en Équilibre, (1942) was Hébert’s first collection of poems published. It got good reviews and won her the Prix David.
In 1943 her cousin, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, “died of a heart attack at the age of 31. In 1952, her only sister Marie died suddenly of an illness. These two events would help shape her poetic vision, full of images of death and drowning.”
No Quebec publisher would publish her 1945 collection of stories, Le Torrent. It was finally published in 1950 at the expense of Roger Lemelin.
Hébert was affiliated with Canada’s first film bureau. She worked for Radio Canada, Film Board of Canada and National Film Board of Canada during the 1950s.
Again, she could not find a publisher for her second book of poetry, Le Tombeau des rois (The Tomb of Kings), and had to publish it at her own expense. In 1954 Hébert used a grant from the Royal Society of Canada to move to Paris, thinking that the city would be more receptive to her writing.
Hébert returned to Canada in the 1990s. Her last novel Un Habit de lumière was published in 1998.
Hébert died of bone cancer on January 22, 2000 in Montreal.
Hébert’s first book of stories, Le Torrent, “a collection of tales that appeared in 1950, shocked the reading public” but has “become a classic.”
Les Chambres de bois (1958), her first novel, “contained particularly original imagery, exploring mortally constrained worlds in which interaction is based on brutal passion and primitive violence.” The book “signaled a significant shift in style and content for Québécois literature. Instead of realistic discourse, we find a literature of rebellion that is experimental and expresses a deep sense of alienation.”
In 1970, “Hébert convincingly demonstrated her virtuosity in the great novel Kamouraska. Here she skillfully combines two plots in a 19th-century Québec setting. The writing has a breathless, anguished and romantic rhythm that underlines well-controlled suspense.
Hébert “has been less prolific as a writer of poetry than of fiction, but her relatively small number of works has earned her a prominent place in the canon of Québécois poetry.”
“Hébert’s road to maturity as a poet had three stages. In 1942 she published her first collection, Les Songes en équilibre in which she portrays herself as existing in a dreamlike torpor.”
“In 1953 Le Tombeau des rois appeared, in which the self triumphs over the powerful dead who rule our dreams.”
“Finally, in 1960 (when Québec was in the spring of the Quiet Revolution), the powerful verse of Mystère de la parole reveals the liberated self.” Mystère was a “new cycle of poems inspired by light, the sun, the world, and the word…. Thus Hébert’s poetic trajectory was complete: from writing about solitary, anguished dreams, she had arrived at a form of expression that was both opulent and committed to the real world.”
Hébert’s first book of poetry, Les Songes en Équilibre, won Quebec’s Prix David. She won the Prix France-Canada and the Prix Duvernay in 1958 for Les chambres de bois.
Hébert was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1960.
Her Poèmes (a reprinting of Le Tombeau des rois, coupled with a section of new poems, Mystère de la parole) won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1960. She twice won the Governor General’s Award for fiction, for her novels Les enfants du sabbat (1975) and L’enfant chargé des songes (1992).
She won the Molson Prize in 1967.
Hébert won France’s Prix de librairies for her 1970 novel Kamouraska and its Prix Fémina for her 1982 novel Les fous de Bassan. Both books have also been made into movies, Kamouraska in 1973 directed by Claude Jutra, and Les fous de Bassan in 1986 by Yves Simoneau. Kamouraska also won the Grand Prix of the Académie royale de la langue françaises de Belgique.
Hébert’s work has been translated into at least seven languages, including English, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. The First Garden, the English translation of Le premier jardin, won the Félix Antoine-Savard Prize for Translation in 1991,
L’école Anne-Hébert, opened in Vancouver in 1983, is an elementary school that offers instruction from kindergarten through grade 6 in French only.
In 2013, documentary filmmaker Michel Langlois released Anne des vingt jours, a biographical documentary about Hébert.
Commemorative postage stamp
On September 8, 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, Canada Post released a special commemorative series, “The Writers of Canada”, with a design by Katalina Kovats, featuring two English-Canadian and two French-Canadian stamps. Three million stamps were issued. The two French-Canadian authors used were Hébert and her cousin, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.
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