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John Michell Mysteries


Archive for Thursday 19th June 2003 - The Mary Celeste

Last week's subject, mysteries of the ocean, has led me on to the best one of them all - the mystery of the Mary Celeste. It happened in 1872, in the Victorian era, when everyone was trying to be rational. They did not like mysteries in those days. They thought that science was about to explain everything. Then the Mary Celeste sailed into view, and doubts began creeping in. She was a small vessel, a brigantine, bound from New York to Italy with a cargo of alcohol. Hailed by a British ship, the Dei Gratia, near the Azores, she failed to respond, and a boarding party found her abandoned. She was in good shape and well provisioned, but there was no sign of her crew, nor of the lifeboat.

Further details were later added to the record. The galley stove, they said, was still warm, and so was the breakfast on the men's plates. Something unknown, it seemed, had suddenly taken away the captain and crew. Or something terrible had panicked them into the lifeboat. They were never seen again, and the mystery has never been solved.

That story, when I heard it as a child, made me shiver with excitement. And it haunts me even today. You can easily make up a rational explanation. Perhaps they all got drunk, went for a spin in the lifeboat and had an accident. But that does not quite fit the facts. So perhaps. . . whatever you would like to imagine.

John Michell

If you have a favourite mystery subject - from spontaneous human combustion to ancient Celtic ritual sites, write to John, suggesting a theme. And if you have any answers or theories about the mysteries John will be highlighting, he would particularly like to hear from you.

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John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you. We have arranged with our friends at The Daily Mirror for website visitors to order books mentioned on this site.

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Unexplained Phenomena, A Rough Guide Special
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Who Wrote Shakespeare?
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