Grace Darling was an English lighthouse keeper’s daughter, famed for participating in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked Forfarshire in 1838. In the early hours of 7 September 1838, Darling spotted survivors on Big Harcar, a nearby low rocky island. She and her father William determined that the weather was too rough for the lifeboat to put out from Seahouses (then North Sunderland). They took a rowing boat (a 21 foot, 4-man Northumberland coble) on a long route that kept to the lee side of the islands, a distance of nearly a mile. Darling kept the coble steady in the water while her father helped four men and the lone surviving woman, Mrs. Dawson, into the boat.
Darling became a celebrity. Gifts including fifty pounds from Queen Victoria amounted to seven-hundred pounds. Painters flocked to her island to capture her image. Marriage proposals arrived with every mail.
However, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Grace Darling died of tuberculosis in October 1842, at the age of twenty-six.
And as you might suspect, there’s a poem in the works. The question was should I include the one by Wordsworth or by Swinburne? You read and decide.
To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net