Wake of the Invercauld: Shipwrecked in the Sub-Antarctic


256 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1688-3
DDC 910'.9164'8




Photos by Paddy Ryan and Madelene F. Allen
Illustrations by Michael Stone and C. Humberstone
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, and the author of Kurlek, Margaret Laurence: The
Long Journey Home, and As Though Life Mattered: Leo Kennedy’s Story.


This dramatic account of adventure, catastrophe, survival, and
historical recovery is interwoven with Madelene Ferguson Allen’s
personal story. In researching the history of her birth family for her
first book, Reunion, Allen discovered her relationship to a young
English adventurer who was shipwrecked in 1864 with 19 others on the
windswept Auckland Islands in the sub–Antarctic Ocean south of New

The Aucklands are a plant and wildlife sanctuary, and Allen needed
permission from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation to conduct
her research there in the early 1990s. Full-page color photographs show
the beauty of the islands’ rugged terrain and depict the rough hut
where Holding and two other survivors of the shipwreck managed to keep
alive for one year.

This book draws on original sources such as journals, contemporary
newspaper articles on the Invercauld’s last voyage, and survivor
accounts. After the wreck, there was conflict and cannibalism on the
island as the hierarchy of ship authority was turned upside down. The
survivors were marooned with no equipment, no food, and no shelter at
the beginning of the sub-Antarctic winter.

Allen’s keen appreciation of the human drama is evident in this
briskly told and well-illustrated book; it deserves a wide readership.


Allen, Madelene F., “Wake of the Invercauld: Shipwrecked in the Sub-Antarctic,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4471.