The Life-and-Death History of the Message in a Bottle

One Thursday morning in late June 1899, an 11-year-old boy named William Andrews was playing on the beach at Ilfracombe in Devon, England. There he spotted a small tin floating in the water. The quarter-pound tin was marked “coffee and chicory”, and was tied up with a piece of cork for buoyancy. Inside the tin was a note, written in pencil on a page torn from a pocket diary. The note was signed by able seaman R Neel and addressed to Mrs Abigail Neel in Cardiff, Wales. It read as follows:

“To my wife and children. The Stella is going down as I pen my last words. If I do not survive, go to my brother. Goodbye, my loved ones, goodbye.”

This was just one of hundreds of messages in bottles, boxes and tins washed up from the sea onto British and other shores in 1899, and one of thousands found during the busy Victorian and Edwardian steam and sail seafaring eras. These messages from the sea told tales of foundering ships, missing ocean liners and shipwrecked sailors, and contained moving farewells, romantic declarations and intriguing confessions. Some solved mysteries of lost vessels and crews, while others created new mysteries yet to be solved. Read More…

Read the full 2,000-word article at Medium

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Messages from the Sea book out now

Now available, the Messages from the Sea book book collects historic messages in bottles found around the world, and presents them with notes and illustrations. It contains 100 messages – some are favourites from the website, but the majority are new for the book. The book also includes an introductory history of the message in a bottle.

The book is available directly from us and from Amazon stores worldwide, in paperback, hardback, and as a Kindle eBook. The paperback and hardback editions contain 200 pages and more than 40 illustrations. The eBook contains all of the text plus selected illustrations. You can get the book by clicking the buttons below:

Messages from the Sea
Letters and Notes from a Lost Era Found in Bottles and on Beaches Around the World
Compiled by Paul Brown, Published by Superelastic

“The lost and found language of Messages from the Sea in book form. Superb!” – Ian McMillan

Messages from the Sea is a collection of letters and notes found washed ashore on beaches and bobbing in water, in corked bottles and wax-sealed boxes, carved onto wreckage and in the bellies of sharks. They tell of foundering ships, missing ocean liners and shipwrecked sailors, and contain moving farewells, romantic declarations and intriguing confessions. Some solve the mysteries of lost vessels and crews, while others create new mysteries yet to be solved. Dating from a lost era of seafaring, they demonstrate the brave, lonely and fragile nature of life on the ocean waves.

Included among the 100 messages in the book are: a clue to the fate of the missing White Star liner Naronic; a murder confession found in a bottle off the White Cliffs of Dover; an update from John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition; a poem about a newborn baby found inside an 11ft shark; an unlikely apology from fleeing fraudster Violet Charlesworth; evidence for the unnecessary loss of the steamship London with 220 souls; the truth behind the mysterious grave robbery of the Earl of Crawford; and a message from the deck of the sinking Titanic.

The messages date from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, an era before ship-to-shore radio, when a vessel lost contact with the world once it disappeared over the horizon. For many seafarers, the message in a bottle was a vital and valuable form of communication. Found messages were published in national and local newspapers around the world, often in columns titled Messages from the Sea.

messages_front

messages back

Messages from the Sea
Letters and Notes from a Lost Era Found in Bottles and on Beaches Around the World
Compiled by Paul Brown
Published by Superelastic, 19 September 2016
Hardback, ISBN 9780995541207
Paperback, ISBN 9780995541214
Also available as an eBook

Media information
Trade information
Contact us

Unbelievable true stories of messages in bottles brought to life in book – Sunday Express
Real-life ‘messages in a bottle’ from a very different age – Newcastle Chronicle
Book reveals man’s last message to his wife and children before he was lost at sea – Sunderland Echo
Messages washed up on Scottish islands feature in new book – Island News & Advertiser

Get the Messages from the Sea book

Music from the Sea

Composer Clive Whitburn has written and recorded four pieces of music for soprano, baritone, harp and piano, based on Messages from the Sea.

The messages featured are Look after my boy (Thompson’s message), The body in a well (Charles Pilcher), Miss Charlesworth’s compliments (Miss Charlesworth Presents), and A pretty little boy (All is well).

The recordings feature soprano Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz, baritone Alex Roose, harpist Alexandra King and pianist Adam Swayne. You can listen to all four pieces below:

All four letters on which the music is based are included in the Messages from the Sea book.

Get the Messages from the Sea book

Messages from the Sea book

The Messages from the Sea book is a beautifully presented collection of some of our favourite letters and notes found floating in bottles and washed up on beaches across the world. Initially available via this website as a special limited edition, the standard edition of the book was published on 19 September 2016, and is now available in bookstores.

The book contains 100 messages, including some website favourites and many previously unseen book exclusives, with accompanying notes and illustrations. Also included is an introductory history of the message in a bottle.

Messages from the Sea
Letters and Notes from a Lost Era Found in Bottles and on Beaches Around the World
Compiled by Paul Brown, Published by Superelastic

“The lost and found language of Messages from the Sea in book form. Superb!” – Ian McMillan

Messages from the Sea is a collection of letters and notes found washed ashore on beaches and bobbing in water, in corked bottles and wax-sealed boxes, carved onto wreckage and in the bellies of sharks. They tell of foundering ships, missing ocean liners and shipwrecked sailors, and contain moving farewells, romantic declarations and intriguing confessions. Some solve the mysteries of lost vessels and crews, while others create new mysteries yet to be solved. Dating from a lost era of seafaring, they demonstrate the brave, lonely and fragile nature of life on the ocean waves.

Included among the 100 messages in the book are: a clue to the fate of the missing White Star liner Naronic; a murder confession found in a bottle off the White Cliffs of Dover; an update from John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition; a poem about a newborn baby found inside an 11ft shark; an unlikely apology from fleeing fraudster Violet Charlesworth; evidence for the unnecessary loss of the steamship London with 220 souls; the truth behind the mysterious grave robbery of the Earl of Crawford; and a message from the deck of the sinking Titanic.

The messages date from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, an era before ship-to-shore radio, when a vessel lost contact with the world once it disappeared over the horizon. For many seafarers, the message in a bottle was a vital and valuable form of communication. Found messages were published in national and local newspapers around the world, often in columns titled Messages from the Sea.

messages_front

messages back

Messages from the Sea
Letters and Notes from a Lost Era Found in Bottles and on Beaches Around the World
Compiled by Paul Brown
Published by Superelastic, 19 September 2016
Hardback, ISBN 9780995541207
Paperback, ISBN 9780995541214
Also available as an eBook

Media information
Trade information
Contact us

Unbelievable true stories of messages in bottles brought to life in book – Sunday Express
Real-life ‘messages in a bottle’ from a very different age – Newcastle Chronicle
Book reveals man’s last message to his wife and children before he was lost at sea – Sunderland Echo
Messages washed up on Scottish islands feature in new book – Island News & Advertiser

Special thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged Messages from the Sea over the past few months. This book would not have been possible without you. We hope you enjoy it.

Note: The limited edition is sold out, but the standard edition was published on 19 September 2016.

Get the Messages from the Sea book

An introduction to Messages from the Sea

Messages from the Sea is a collection of letters and notes from a lost era, found washed up in bottles on shores around the world.

The messages tell of foundering ships, missing ocean liners, and shipwrecked sailors, and contain moving farewells, romantic declarations, and intriguing confessions.

Dating from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, they demonstrate the brave, lonely and fragile nature of life on the ocean waves.

Get the Messages from the Sea book