HMS Bounty sailed from Spithead, England on December 23, 1787 with Captain William Bligh and a crew of 45 men bound for Tahiti. Their mission was to collect breadfruit plants to be transplanted in the West Indies as cheap food for the slaves. After collecting those plants, Bounty was underway toward home, when, on the morning of April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian and part of the crew mutinied, took over the ship, and set the Captain and 18 members of the crew adrift in the ship’s 23-foot launch. The Captain sailed the launch and 17 of the crew 3618 miles back to civilization. The mutineers took HMS Bounty back to Tahiti, and, with 6 Polynesian men and 12 women, took the ship to the isolated site at Pitcairn Island. After burning the ship and a violent beginning, they established a settlement and colony on Pitcairn Island that still exists.
You May also like these books about the Bounty:
Mutiny on the Bounty (Hardcover) by Charles Nordhoff, James N. Hall
I've read "Mutiny on the Bounty" more times than I can count since I was a teenager and I've read just about everything I have been able to find about the Bounty since then. "Mutiny" is not a history but a romantic novel about the ship and crew. In that regard it paints Bligh as the villain and Christian as the hero. The reality was that Bligh's biggest problem was with his harsh tongue and that Christian's act of mutiny was impulsive.
Nevertheless, the saga of the Bounty is perhaps the most famous and enduring sea story. A small ship, about 90 feet long and 20 feet wide leave in 1787 on what should've been an obscure expedition to deliver breadfruit from Tahiti to the Caribbean and instead the crew sailed off into immortality.
"Mutiny" is a very romantic telling of the story through the eyes of the young midshipman, Roger Byam (in reality, Peter Heywood). Byam is befriended by and admires Fletcher Christian and he witnesses the abuses of Bligh towards the crew. The ship sojourns in Tahiti which is almost Eden-like to the English sailors. Soon into the homeward journey Christian leads a revolt and throws Bligh and his loyalists off the ship, he returns to Tahiti where the crewmen who couldn't go with Bligh are abandoned along with some of the mutineers who want to take their chances and Christian and 8 others of the crew sail off into oblivion. Byam and the others are caught by a British frigate sent off to avenge the taking of the Bounty and after an ordeal of their own Byam and the others stand trial for mutiny and face the hangman's noose.
While not historically accurate it "Mutiny" is still a very enjoyable book and a deeper book than it is given credit for. The clash of cultures, men rebelling against oppression is what "Mutiny on the Bounty" is about. Part III of the Bounty Trilogy, "Pitcairn's Island" is even better than "Mutiny". Reviewer: A. Tindell "ajtlawyer" (Richland, WA)
This is a wonderful book about the taking of the ship Bounty by its crew. It is well written much in the character of a romance novel. The work teaches the futility of managing small groups via coercion and excess force. Captain Bligh is nowhere near the equal of Fletcher Christian in managing the crew and handling daily ministerial decisions. In almost every instance, Captain Bligh resolves conflict with excessive punishment and flippant directives. With every moment, the crew resents his presence even more. The readers can appreciate the easy contrast between Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian. Further into the novel, a military court procedure leaves the judges perplexed and ultimately disappointed in the disproportionate punishments administered by Captain Bligh. Near the end of the novel, his judgment is questioned and the audience develops more sympathy for the person of Fletcher Christian and his crew. The novel portrays a beautiful wilderness and island paradise replete with exotic wildlife and fresh fruit of every color and taste. Students will debate this novel for years to come. It is appropriate for the high school reading audience. Reviewer: Joseph S. Maresca "Dr. Joseph S. Maresca CPA, CISA" (Bronxville, New York USA)
The Bounty : The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander
Caroline Alexander takes a story you perhaps thought you knew-the 1789 mutiny on board the HMS Bounty-and says something new about it, in a style that is both economical, elegant, and exciting. In a first chapter that is a masterpiece of simple story-telling, she structures the fantastic story: "Captain" William Bligh (in fact, he was only a lieutenant) commanded the HMS Bounty to Tahiti, suffered the mutiny of part of his crew, and navigated a simple row-boat across many thousands of miles of the Pacific to be rescued. A second voyage, undertaken by the HMS Pandora, discovered many mutineers on a distant island, taking them into custody, only to be broken up in a terrible storm, its survivors (crew and prisoners) enduring a second open-boat voyage to safety. On return to England a length court-martial condemned many of the mutineers to death, but left unscathed young Peter Heywood, convicted but later pardoned.
The traditional view of things (i.e. the one you `know' from the movie versions) has Bligh as a torturer, the famous Fletcher Christian as a defender of the ordinary sailor's rights, and Heywood as an innocent bystander. Through careful reading of seemingly every contemporary document-including every bit of the trial transcripts-Alexander subverts the story to one of privilege rebelling against authority: whereas Bligh came from a family of extremely modest means, Christian and Heywood both came from old and well-connected families who, after the courtmartial, ensured their own good names by besmirching Bligh's.
This is not sensational journalism but careful scholarship, and even if you don't agree with Alexander's `take' on the subject, you will enjoy hearing the sailor's own first-person narratives, as well as Alexander's careful reconstruction of what actually occurred.
This book was nominated for the National Book Critic's Circle award for non-fiction; it was richly deserved. "HMS Bounty" receives my highest endorsement as well! Reviewer: bensmomma "bensmomma"