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Spirits at Sea? The Palatine Wreck author to speak at Fall River Library

Interested in ghosts and mystery? This Rhode Island legend may be just for you.



On Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 6:30 p.m., Fall River Public Library, 104 North Main Street, hosts author Jill Farinelli, who will discuss one of New England’s most haunting maritime mysteries. Farinelli’s new book The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship uncovers the true story behind the legend of the Palatine, the name given to the ship in later years, when its original name had been long forgotten.

Two days after Christmas in 1738, the Princess Augusta, a British merchant ship traveling from Rotterdam was lost in a blizzard on the northern tip of Block Island. The 105 passengers and crew on board—sick, frozen, and starving—were all that remained of the 340 men, women, and children who had left their homeland the previous spring. Shortly after the wreck, rumors began to circulate that the passengers had been mistreated by the ship’s crew and some of the islanders. These stories came to be associated with a terrifying apparition of a ship engulfed in flames.

The flaming ghost ship off the coast of Block Island was witnessed by hundreds of people over the centuries. Its continued reappearances, along with the attention of some of the nineteenth century’s most notable writers, helped keep the legend alive, despite evidence that the vessel, whose actual name was the Princess Augusta, was never abandoned, lured ashore by wreckers, or destroyed by fire. So how did the rumors begin? What really happened to the Princess Augusta and the passengers she carried on her final, fatal voyage?

Jill Farinelli became fascinated with the ghost ship legend after a visit to Block Island, and she determined to find the origins of the story. Her book The Palatine Wreck, published by New England University Press, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

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