Meet the Author - The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship

Meet the author Jill Farinelli for a presentation and reading of her book The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship published by University Press of New England in 2017.

Two days after Christmas in 1738, a British merchant ship traveling from the Netherlands to Pennsylvania grounded in a blizzard on the northern tip of Block Island, 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast. The ship carried emigrants from the Palatinate and neighboring territories in what is now southwest Germany. The 105 passengers on board--sick, frozen, and starving--were all that remained of the 340 men, women, and children, who left their homeland the previous spring to move to America.

From this incident sprang one of New England's most chilling maritime mysteries as stories began circulating about the wreck. Some said the crew murdered the captain, extorted money from the passengers by prolonging the voyage and withholding food, and then abandoned ship. Others claimed the Block Islanders lured the ship ashore with a false signal light, then murdered and robbed those on board. They allege the ship was set ablaze to hide evidence of crimes. The stories were fueled by reports of a fiery ghost ship first seen drifting in Block Island Sound on the one-year anniversary of the wreck. 

These tales became known as the legend of the Palatine, the name given to the ship after its actual name--Princess Augusta--was forgotten. The eerie phenomenon has been witnessed by hundreds of people over the centuries, and numerous scientific theories have been offered as to its origin. This, despite evidence that the vessel was never abandoned, lured ashore, or destroyed by fire. So how did the rumors at the heart of the legend begin?  What really happened to the Princess Augusta and to the souls she carried on her final, fatal voyage?

Jill Farinelli graduated from William Smith College with a Bachelors of Arts degree in American Studies and English. Determined to live near the ocean in a city steeped in history, she moved to the Boston area where, for the past 25 years, she has worked as a freelance writer and editor, primarily in educational publishing. This is her first work of historical nonfiction, on a subject that captured her imagination after spending a week with friends on Block Island ten years ago.

Free and open to all.
Copies will be for sale and signing.


Event Location: 
Salem Family Auditorium (Second Floor)