If you were to brave the ferocious Southern Ocean and sail to the Auckland Islands near New Zealand today, you would come across the last of the remains of the Grafton shipwreck on the beach. As a poignant reminder of the crew’s time on the island, these artifacts form part of an incredible story of survival.
Shipwrecks have fascinated us for centuries, and they crop up in popular culture all too regularly. Case in point is the 2000 film Cast Away, which sees Tom Hanks play the part of Chuck Noland, who found himself stranded on an island in the middle of the South Pacific after his plane had crashed. As well as capturing the imagination of viewers across the globe, it also enjoyed critical success: with Hanks getting an Academy Award nod for Best Actor.
But our fascination with shipwrecks goes back much further. Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel, Robinson Crusoe, for example, details the story of the eponymous character’s adventures as a castaway on an island near Trinidad. Indeed, the fictional book is thought to be based on the life of the Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk.