On June 2, 1609, a ship named the Sea Venture set sail for Jamestown, Virginia. On the way, the ship was blown off course by a horrible hurricane. The storm badly damaged the ship and all hands onboard fought off the rising water until the ship ran aground on the island of Bermuda. After salvaging parts of the Sea Venture to build another ship, the stranded group set sail again for Jamestown, arriving in Virginia on May 10, 1610.
News of the shipwreck and tales of the castaways traveled back to England, due in no small part to a publication by one Sea Venture traveler, William Strachey, who wrote dramatic tales about the adventure, including one incident in Bermuda involving an indentured servant named Stephen Hopkins who was accused of mutiny and narrowly escaped death.
Stephen Hopkins not only survived the Sea Venture hurricane, but would travel 11 years later on the Mayflower as both a guide and the father to Oceanus, the only child born on the Mayflower while it was at sea. The dramatic life of Stephen Hopkins seems to have inspired our favorite dramatist, William Shakespeare for his play, The Tempest, and specifically the character of Stephano, which came to life in Shakespeare’s performance just one year after the cast and crew of the Sea Venture landed in Jamestown.
Our guest this week, Andrew Buckley, is descended directly from Stephen Hopkins and has just completed a documentary film on his life. Andrew joins us today to share the story of Stephen Hopkins and walk us through the evidence that suggests Shakespeare’s character of Stephano might have been inspired by the real life of Stephen Hopkins. Get bonus episodes on Patreon
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