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Happy Valentine’s Day from Casting Lots Podcast!
In this special episode, Alix tells the story of young Ann Saunders and the Frances Mary: a tale of shipwreck, survival cannibalism, and love.
Looking for a book or film to enjoy while you snuggle up to your significant other this evening? We’re also discussing our favourite examples of survival cannibalism in pop culture – from the literary to the pulpy to the plain old weird.
Written, hosted and produced by Alix Penn and Carmella Lowkis.
Theme music by Daniel Wackett. Find him on Twitter @ds_wack and Soundcloud as Daniel Wackett.
Logo by Riley. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @tallestfriend.
Casting Lots is part of the Morbid Audio Podcast Network. Network sting by Mikaela Moody. Find her on Bandcamp as mikaelamoody1.
- Birch, C. (2011). Jamrach’s Menagerie. London: Canongate.
- Carlisle, H. (2000). The Jonah Man. London: Orion Books.
- Connors, S.T. (1973). ‘Marten Hartwell Story’. Stompin’ Tom Connors. To It and at It. [Digital]. Ontario: Stompin’ Tom Ltd. Available at: https://open.spotify.com/track/7cmxWi6JlsvWWqawkklNXw
- Crain, C. (1994). ‘Lovers of Human Flesh: Homosexuality and Cannibalism in Melville’s Novels’, American Literature, 66(1), pp. 25-53. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/2927432
- DeSpair, C. (2019). ‘MFDJ 07/04/2019: CANNIBALISM AT SEA’, Decidedly Grim, 4 July. Available at: http://www.decidedlygrim.net/?p=7331
- Faiella, G. (2019). Misery, Mutiny and Menace. Cheltenham: The History Press.
- Faiella, G., (2020). ‘Terrible true tales of life at sea’, The History Press, n.d. Available at: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/terrible-true-tales-of-life-at-sea/
- Ford, D. (2008). ‘Eating Flesh: Cannibalism at Sea on board Jersey Ships’, Heritage, 2008. Available at: https://www.jerseyheritage.org/heritage-magazine
- ‘George Byron, 7th Baron Byron’. (2020). Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Byron,_7th_Baron_Byron Accessed: 19 January 2020.
- Kimichika, M. (2018). The Catamaran. Japan: Kindle Direct Publishing.
- ‘List of Catholic Saints’. (2020). Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_saints (Accessed 19 January 2020)
- Martel, Y. (2012). The Life of Pi. Edinburgh: Canongate.
- Miskolcze, R. (2007). Women and Children First. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
- Mitchell-Cook, A. (2011). ‘To Honor their Worth, Beauty and Accomplishments: Women in Early American-Anglo Shipwreck Accounts’, Coriolis, 2(1), pp. 17-33. Available at: http://ijms.nmdl.org/article/view/8071
- Mitchell-Cook, A. (2013). A Sea of Misadventures. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
- Pembroke, J.D.T. (2015). ‘Dr. Pembroke’s Clinic – True Love and Cannibalism on the High Seas’, The Pandora Society, 14 October. Available at: https://thepandorasociety.com/dr-pembrokes-clinic-true-love-and-cannibalism-on-the-high-seas/
- Petrinovich, L.F. (2000). The Cannibal Within. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
- Saunders, A. (1827). Narrative of the shipwreck and sufferings of Miss Ann Saunders. Providence, RI: ZS Crossmon. Available at: https://archive.org/details/cihm_40276/page/n5
- Schutt, B. (2017). Eat Me: A Natural and Unnatural History of Cannibalism. London: Profile Books.
- Simmons, D. (2010). The Terror. London: Transworld.
- Simpson, B. (2003). Cannibalism and Common Law. London: A&C Black.
- Solomon, J. (2013). Shipwreck in Art and Literature. New York: Routledge.
- Stagnaro, A. (2019). ‘St. Lawrence Laughed in the Face of Death’, National Catholic Register, 10 August. Available at: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/astagnaro/st.-lawrence-laughed-in-the-face-of-death
- The Terror. (2018). AMC, 25 March-21 May.
- Thomas, R.A.M. (2018). Interesting and Authentic Narratives of the Most Remarkable Shipwrecks, Fires, Famines, Calamities, Providential Deliverances, and Lamentable Disasters on the Seas in Most Parts of the World. Miami, FL: HardPress.
- Warkentin, E. (2018). A Land So Wild. San Jose, CA: Carnation Books.
- Wilcox, J. (2000). Humour in Anglo-Saxon Literature. Rochester: Boydell & Brewer.
- Your Catholic Voice Foundation. (2020). ‘Saints A to Z’, Catholic Online. Available at: https://www.catholic.org/saints/stindex.php (Accessed 19 January 2020)
Alix: Have you ever been really, really hungry?
Carmella: You’re listening to Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast.
A: I’m Alix.
C: I’m Carmella.
A: And now let’s tuck into the gruesome history of this ultimate taboo…
[Intro Music – Daniel Wackett]
A: This is the Valentine’s Day special. Today, we are going to be covering the Frances Mary: a love story?
C: We’re also going to be looking at cannibalism in pop culture.
A: What else could you have to do on Valentine’s Day than spend it with us?
[Intro music continues]
A: I was doing a bit of research for this episode, as we tend to do.
C: Yes, our Google search histories are quite dangerous and we’re probably on some watch lists.
A: Almost certainly. But when we realised we were going to do a Valentine’s Day special, what I really wanted to discover sort of randomly was that Saint Valentine was also the saint of cannibalism – alongside beekeeping and epilepsy.
C: Was he?
A: Sadly not.
A: There are connections. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of romance, and – it’s a little bit racy – but one of the colloquial sayings about cannibalism is ‘to eat someone out’, as Bill Schutt writes. My mother listens to this podcast, so I’m gonna stop that theme there. But you know, there are connections between the inherent eroticism of cannibalism…
C: We’ve discussed this in our Bills & Boon sections in previous episodes.
A: While it turns out that Saint Valentine isn’t the patron saint of survival cannibalism, you can always trust the Catholics to have a patron saint for everything.
C: Wow! Please continue…
A: So, in descending order of interest. In tied last place (otherwise known as third), we have Brendan the Navigator and Nicholas of Myra. For both of them I’ve just written down that they were the patron saints of “boat shit”, which – as we know – does have some good tie-ins to cannibalism at sea.
C: Yep, custom of the sea. If they’re related to the sea, then they must…
A: Have to help people out in that situation. But, you know, that’s a bit tenuous. So for second place we have Saint Blandina. She was a French martyr. She was falsely accused of cannibalism, and has become the patron saint of servant girls, torture victims, and those who are falsely accused of cannibalism.
C: That’s a very specific patron saint, and you wouldn’t think you would need her help that often.
C: And yet… I suppose that there are instances- Oh God, you know she’s hanging out with Douglas Mawson ‘cause of our last episodes.
A: [Laughs] But, yeah, we’re not here for these false accusations of cannibalism. Douglas Mawson aside. We’re here for the real deal.
C: He was a real cannibal. I stand by that.
A: So, here we have our winner. This is my contender for the patron saint of Casting Lots Podcast.
A: Saint Lawrence. Saint Lawrence was Deacon of Rome, under Emperor Valerian. It doesn’t go too well for him… I mean, obviously. He’s a patron saint; you don’t get to become a patron saint if things go that well.
C: Normally you have to die horribly. And I assume he dies in a cannibal-related way?
A: Lawrence was an all-round good guy. Bit Robin Hood – gave his riches of the church to the poor. The Romans came round demanding that they get the gold, and Lawrence says no.
C: Oh yeah, the Romans don’t like that kind of thing.
A: So he’s placed on a burning hot grid-iron or rotisserie. Lawrence is cooked to death. But, as he’s going out, he says, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!”
C: [Laughs] Oh, I’m sure he definitely said that!
A: Which means that Saint Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks, barbeques, firefighters, comedians, and – strangely – also Canada.
C: [Laughs] I think he fits perfectly with the podcast. Excellent. Saint Lawrence, I welcome you.
A: 10th of August. Everyone have a barbeque for Saint Lawrence – patron saint of Casting Lots. So with that fun tangent on the history of Catholic saints in our ‘Which obscure Catholic saint are you?’ – that’s kind of gonna set the tone for today’s episode.
C: Excellent! Good!
A: We’re going to have discussions, we’re going to have fun games. Well… we’ll find them fun.
C: We’re going to have fun! Alix and Carmella specifically.
A: And you’re along for the ride. But we are going to start – in the true spirit of Saint Valentine’s Day – with a love story.
A: Carmella, would you like to hear the story of the Frances Mary?
C: I would love to! It sounds like it’s going to be heartwarming and beautiful and poetic.
A: Hearts certainly are going to be warmed.
A: I’m quite proud of that.
C: That’s good; that was really good.
A: Ann Saunders is 23. She’s born and raised in Liverpool. I really don’t want to have to try and do a Scouse accent. It’s not gonna end well. She boards the fateful ship the Frances Mary from Liverpool harbour.
C: [In some kind of accent] Liverpool.
A: [In another kind of accent] Liverpool.
C: Was that…? I don’t even know if that was a Liverpool accent. But we tried. We tried.
A: We’ve not recorded an episode for a while – you can tell.
C: Yeah, my accents are just really rus- You know, normally I can do a Scouse accent at the drop of a hat, ‘cause I’m an accent master, but-
A: You are an accent master.
A: It’s 1825 and Ann Saunders is travelling alongside her mistress, Mrs Kendall.
C: Mistress… in…?
C: Ugh. Okay. Continue.
A: I’m giving you a cannibalism love story; I’m afraid I’m struggling to find an LGBT cannibalism true-life love story.
C: We’ll get to it in the section on fiction later – don’t worry, guys.
A: Mrs Kendall is also sometimes called Mrs Patterson, because my sources just want to mess with me.
C: [Laughs] Yes!
A: It’s the only reason I can think. Mrs Kendall is the wife of Captain Kendall – the captain of the Frances Mary. So while there are passengers on board, they’re the only women, Saunders and Kendall, because of this connection to the captain.
C: Okay, right, right.
A: But Ann isn’t alone at sea. On the Frances Mary, not only are there some crew and passengers, and a fuck-tonne of timber – that’s the official categorisation of the amount of cargo-
C: So just to clarify, they’re transporting timber, it’s not just that the boat is made of wood?
C: Both. Okay, there’s a lot of wood going on.
A: Happy Valentine’s Day!
C: [Wheezing] Fully grown adults. Continue. Tell me more about the wood.
A: Well this shipment of big, hard wood-
A: Carmella is crying.
C: I’m a grown-up. Continue.
A: Is going from England to America on a round voyage, and then they’re gonna come back. Young Ann Saunders does suffer from seasickness, but she gets over that eventually. Possibly because she’s actually in love.
C: Who’s she in love with, Alix?
A: She is in love with James Friar, the ship’s cook. She has known young James since they were both 18 years old.
A: And they have formed an indissoluble attachment to each other. They are going to be wed when the Frances Mary returns to Liverpool.
C: Yes they definitely- That will happen for them! I believe it.
A: They believe it. “To me he had early made protestations of love,” she later says. They’re in love; they’re very happy. Although they do go to pains to point out – or at least Ann does – that she only agreed to wed him on the return journey. So no hanky-panky happened on the way in; they weren’t even engaged on the way in.
C: Okay, so they were just coyly smiling at each other at that point.
C: Oh, totally. ‘Cause that’s how it was in the past. Totally.
A: The Frances Mary leaves Saint John’s in Brunswick on the 18th of January 1826. She has a crew of 15, with six passengers. It’s a bit of a pre-honeymoon period for James and Ann, although the Frances Mary’s cargo is timber – there aren’t any handy rations of cheese, chocolates, oysters, or other aphrodisiacs on board.
C: Sad there’s no cheese in this one.
A: No cheese… Well, quite a lot of cheese, but not the cheese we were going for! To begin with, all is smooth in the Atlantic, and then the weather strikes. I have semi-written this script in a bit of a Bills & Boon-esque fashion, I think you can tell.
C: It’s beautiful; I’m really enjoying it.
A: The prose is so purple it’s like I’ve asphyxiated it.
C: [Laughs] That’s also good.
A: Again, not scripted.
C: Oh, you’re doing- You’re on a roll.
A: I’m on fire today. Like the Cospatrick.
C: [Laughs] Stop with the stupid cannibalism in-jokes!
A: On the 1st of February, a storm rages over the Frances Mary. Gale-force winds snap all three of her masts; tear away her rudder; rip away the ship’s galley from deck; throws the small boat into the water; and injures five sailors.
C: That is a lot of the ship that is overboard or damaged.
A: The Frances Mary is a sitting duck.
C: …Or a turtle.
A: Or a turtle. Pause for effect. She’s demasted, unable to navigate, floundering in a still-deadly storm. She has limited food, limited shelter. And the storm continues!
C: Um, ‘limited food’? You did just say there were five dead bodies…
A: No, they’re injured.
A: Only injured!
C: I’m just thinking ahead.
A: Stop rushing ahead! So, the storm continues. Now all of the longboats get washed overboard.
C: They didn’t tie them down after the first one went?
A: Nah, they were like “It’ll be fine”.
C: “Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place.”
A: Exactly. Her anchor is also torn off.
C: I am running out of parts of a ship that I can name that haven’t been lost.
A: I’ve got one. The stern. The stern gets a hole punched into her.
C: Oh no.
A: This is where all of the provisions are stored. Where now there is a lot of the sea inside the ship.
C: So they can float nicely out?
A: They can float nicely out, they can be corrupted by salt water… They try and get the necessary provisions to the upper decks, but there’s just not enough food. A lot of timber. But not enough food. And crucially, Frances Mary – she isn’t going to sink. She’s also not going to be steered.
C: So she’s just gonna sort of… sit there?
A: Bob about. Hope is on the horizon, though! Even through the storm, an American vessel is spotted. And allegedly another ship makes contact with the ravaged Frances Mary.
C: Oh, all good then! Happy ever after.
A: Both of them, to quote, “offered no assistance”.
C: Thank you for that, American vessels, very useful.
A: Bit of a dick move. And, fair, there’s no obligation to assist if it puts you or your vessel in danger. But… Don’t go over and talk to them! And then be like “Yeah, sucks to be you, doesn’t it?”
C: It’s like the crossing over the road, but like you’re crossing over to say, like, “Haha” – and then crossing back.
A: Yeah, just look the other way. Pretend you’ve not seen them! Well, don’t do that – go and help. But-
C: Yeah, go and help the people who are dying on the ship, maybe?
A: The Frances Mary, her crew and passengers, are thoroughly screwed.
A: Happy Valentine’s Day!
C: Gotta have all the erotic imagery.
A: This is where the dates start to become a little bit confusing in the story. According to some accounts, fresh food and water is exhausted by the 6th of February. So the timeline goes: 1st of February, the storm starts; 5th of February, the Atlantic punches a hole in the stern; 6th of February, they ran out of food. Allegedly.
C: That’s a lot of food that went out through the stern, then?
A: Yes. I’m not so sure. Because even though the idea that they go in one day to lose everything is a bit Medusa, they only actually get their supplies out of the hold on the 5th. And other sources say that it’s the 12th that food and water runs dry. Which I think is slightly more believable.
C: Can we make sure that we choose whichever timeline that means that something significant happens on Valentine’s Day?
A: Do you know what? I hadn’t even noticed that this story is taking place over Valentine’s Day!
C: I thought that’s why you picked it!
A: I picked it because it’s a love story.
C: Okay, the food ran out on the 14th. We have no evidence of that, but that is what we are going to go with for the purposes of this episode.
A: Regardless of when the food ran out, the survivors had only had a biscuit and a half to survive on. Their water had run so low that they were rubbing seawater on their lips for want of water, and were drinking urine and salt water.
C: The two fluids that you probably shouldn’t drink.
A: I wouldn’t recommend.
C: I mean, there are more fluids that you shouldn’t drink. We could list them. But these are the ones at sea.
A: What we do know is the first man to die, dies on the 21st of February. Whether there had been any discussion of cannibalism before his death? It’s unclear. But, to quote, the survivors “eyed each other with mournful and melancholy looks”. Which sort of implies… something.
C: Yeah, not just grieving, but, like, a sort of… “Hmm.”
A: Now, whether or not the cannibalism is planned or, you know, just sort of happens naturally – that was the fate of the first body. And I’ll give them that, they start on the first body. They don’t go through the nonsense that hap- That nonsense of giving people a proper burial!
C: God, yeah! I hate it when people get a proper burial in these stories!
A: Well, it’s just like, come on. Take advantage of it from the off. This is the fate of the first body, and all the bodies moving forward. From Captain Kendall’s log on the 21st of February, he writes that “John Wilson, seaman, died at 10am.” Carmella is giggling in the corner at the word ‘seaman’.
C: I managed the whole of Season 1 without giggling at that word! But it’s the tone of the episode that we’ve taken. Tell me about the seaman, please.
A: He “died at 10am. Preserved the body of the deceased, cut him up in quarters, washed him overboard, and hung them up on pins.” The, um, “sweet morsels” of John Wilson were issued out as rations. And “this revolting food was eaten by all.” Including Ann and Mrs Kendall.
C: Well yes, women can be cannibals too!
A: Now, it does appear that the Frances Mary might have become caught up in some other cannibalism-at-sea stories, because some versions say that it was early February when a sailor was discovered dead in the rigging, and that James Clarke died of “no other complaint than weakness caused by famine” on the 12th of February. But we know from the captain’s log that it was John Wilson on the 21st. So it all gets a little bit confusing.
C: Could we say it was on the 14th?
A: No, it’s definitely on the 21st. They can run out of food on the 14th, but the 21st is a solid day in this story.
C: Okay, fine, stick to the facts.
A: Let’s go back to Ann Saunders. Ann Saunders sees the butchery of the body – she’s the fiancée of the ship’s cook. She actually takes up an active role in the survival of the ship.
C: Oh, so her boyfriend’s doing the butchery? Good, they’ve put someone who’s good at it on the job. That’s fair.
A: Now, spoilers, there are no lots cast in this story. But going through the research and looking at ship’s cooks in survival cannibalism at sea cases, I was reading The Cannibal Within. They point out that when lots are cast randomly, it never seems to be the ship’s cook who draws that short straw.
C: I mean, it makes sense, if you’re the one doing the cooking.
A: It does, but I wonder how many of our random allocations actually are that random?
C: Just leaves his name out.
A: It’s not like a Secret Santa! Ann Saunders turns to the butchery of human bodies.
C: It’s a fun couple’s activity.
A: She’s got a healthy sense of self-preservation; someone’s got to do it. And I did come across an incredible quote regarding Ann Saunders, from Amy Mitchell-Cook, that says, “although the food of choice was non-traditional, a middle- or lower-class woman was well within her boundaries processing meat.”
C: I mean, that is a very good point.
A: She’s not wrong. There is an element of class-based judgement at the story of Ann Saunders. Especially the difference between Ann Saunders and Mrs Kendall. Because, of course, Ann is throwing herself into the difficult part of the narrative; Mrs Kendall is not.
C: So she’s just eating the flesh? But she’s not doing the nasty butchery.
A: No, no, she’s remaining a proper lady. Although she does eat a sailor’s brains.
C: [Laughs] I mean, you know what the upper classes are like!
A: She says that it is the “most delicious thing that she has ever tasted.”
C: Does she say that?
A: That quote comes from her husband’s account.
C: Okay! Sure!
A: As a not-so-fun aside, the sailor whose brains Mrs Kendall ate, was an apprentice who had survived not one, not two, but three shipwrecks before the Frances Mary.
A: His luck had run out.
C: That’s a lot of shipwrecks. Poor guy.
A: Back to Ann Saunders. According to Captain Kendall, when the death of any company was announced, she would sharpen her knives, bleed the deceased in the neck, drink his blood, and cut him up.
C: That sounds very villainy, like she’s just drinking the blood herself and not sharing it with anyone. That sounds… I don’t know. Inflated?
A: Well… It appears that the bodies were butchered and then put overboard, as opposed to being stored on deck, with J. Moore – probably John, but no one actually writes it down – J. Moore who died the day after Wilson, so the 22nd, had his liver and heart eaten. And that’s all that’s recorded.
C: Most of the flesh is being castaway?
A: No one’s going into too much detail, having more fun villainising Ann Saunders, sort of launching herself at men with her knives. But I did promise a love story.
C: I was already finding this very romantic, but please, do add to it.
A: James Friar, Ann’s betrothed, is not doing very well.
A: He may even have been one of the survivors who were rendered, quote, “foolish”, and were “crawling on their hands around the deck”.
C: Is this due to, like, seawater-based delirium, or just…?
A: A party game? No, they were classified as ‘raving mad’. I think seawater and being stuck in an unsteerable ship while your crewmates are resorting to cannibalism would- might do it. Maybe.
C: Yeah, it probably doesn’t help.
A: In Ann’s own words, she was watching “him with whom I soon expected to be joined in wedlock expiring before [her] eyes”.
C: This is sounding less Bills & Boon and more quite sad, actually, Alix.
A: What did you think was going to happen in a survival cannibalism love story?
C: Maybe they both survived? I don’t know.
A: James Friar would be the last man aboard the Frances Mary to die. Ann Saunders found herself reduced by hunger and thirst as to be driven to the horrid alternative to preserve her own life.
C: Ugh… ugh… Like, I knew it was gonna end like this. But I’m still sad.
A: As soon as James Friar died, a mate made moves towards the body to drain the blood from the corpse. Ann shrieked, throwing herself at the man and physically fighting him, pleading her claim to, quote, “the greater portion of his precious blood as it oozed half-congealed from the wounds inflicted upon his lifeless body.”
C: Oh, wow! I thought you were gonna say, like, “praying that he doesn’t eat him”. But no, she’s like, “Um, let me eat him; I’m the fiancée.” I like that. She’s- she’s sensible.
A: She is. She claims that she has the greater right to James Friar’s blood, and graciously allows the mate to drink one cup of Friar’s blood to her two. ‘What’s yours is mine’ and all that.
C: Yeah? Yeah.
A: Now, in some versions it says that James Friar wasn’t dead before Ann Saunders went to slit his throat and drink the still-warm blood. Happy Valentine’s Day! This obviously isn’t the version that Ann puts forward in her published narrative.
C: Ooh, that’s surprising!
A: Who’d have thought? Instead, she talks of the blood as being a “bitter cup”. Rescue does eventually come on the 7th of March. From 21 souls who had been aboard the Frances Mary, there are only six survivors. Mrs Kendall and Ann Saunders have both survived.
C: Ah, there we go, another case of women being better at surviving in a cannibalism situation.
A: When the captain of HMS Blonde, Lord George Byron-
C: Any relation to our good friend-?
A: Lord George Byron? Cousins.
C: Ahh. Okay.
A: Inherited the title. And, according to Wikipedia, he was “notable for being his predecessors opposite in temperament and lifestyle.”
C: That’s a very nice and tactful way of saying that he was basically a square.
A: He’s on his way back from doing some Imperial-branded science in the Pacific when he comes across the floundering Frances Mary.
C: And does he just continue on past, like all the others?
A: No, he comes to their assistance. He’s-
C: Ah, finally. Third time lucky!
A: Yeah, it’s fine, it’s fine. Some people never get rescued! Honestly, they’re very demanding, the Frances Mary. Lord Byron steps aboard and says, “You have yet, I perceive, fresh meat.”
C: Oh, so it’s all good.
A: Yeah, he’s gonna be a bit disappointed when he’s told, “No, it is part of a man.”
C: Oh, he didn’t realise?! Oh no! Yeah, he really is not like his cousin.
A: And then Lord Byron and some of his crew have a little cry. Which I think is quite a nice touch.
C: Yeah, he’s feeling some empathy.
A: We’ve literally just been cackling about this.
C: We can’t all be as good and as noble-hearted as Lord George Byron. Would that we were.
A: Indeed. Officially, everyone who died aboard the Frances Mary, died of malnutrition, exposure, seawater, bad luck – but there’s always the possibility and suspicion that maybe lots were cast, maybe out-and-out murder did happen. The six survivors knew about it but, if it happened, no one was telling.
C: Very sensible, unlike some other people I could name. Mignonette.
A: Just keep your mouth shut! The six survivors are brought back to England on the HMS Blonde. The story of the Frances Mary is quite obscure really. While it was published in the Globe and the British Traveller, and the rescue by British navy vessel gave her, you know, a bit of credence on the up-and-up – it wasn’t just that she was discovered by some whaler; she was discovered by a British naval officer.
C: By a lord.
A: Despite this fame, she’s not really discussed all that much. Which is a bit odd, considering the fact that both Captain Kendall and Ann Saunders write their own accounts. We love first-hand narratives of survival cannibalism cases! Ann Saunders’ work is called The Narrative of the Sufferings and Shipwreck of Ann Saunders. Safe to say that she had both suffered and been shipwrecked.
C: Yep, she tells it like it is.
A: Surprising no one, the accounts differ a bit in the focus on Ann aboard ship. Kendall emphasises that Saunders was blood-thirsty and took an active role, while Saunders focuses on religious themes of virtue, and faith and love.
C: Aww. See? It is relevant to Valentine’s Day.
A: It is worth noting that Captain Kendall does call Saunders a “heroine” in his story, and it’s very easy – both for us and the 19th Century audience – to see Ann Saunders in this negative light. Especially with the contrast to Mrs Kendall. Ann Saunders desperately wants to survive; she drinks the blood of her fiancé. Which, as a historical fact, I think, is important to rebalance with her own voice. We don’t normally get that.
A: So I’m glad that we do. Ann writes that James’ death and butchery was “an abject moment of despair”, and that she was “devastated that it was not within [her] power to afford him sustenance”, and that she felt herself “forever weaned from all the vain enjoyments of this frail world” after his death. I’ve not, in fact, been able to find out whether Ann Saunders ever married. Ultimately, in her account, the focus is on redeeming her actions and appealing to a higher authority. Captain Kendall refers to his wife as being a “much emaciated, good-looking woman”, which I think is a- yet another unattainable standard for women’s beauty!
C: God, why can’t we all look like we’ve been shipwrecked and living off the corpses of our crew members for a month?
A: The new diet. Just… brains. In contrast, Captain Kendall subtly accuses Ann of having a tough character, of not being submissive or sophisticated.
C: I’m really liking Ann. She’s sounding like a good strong independent female character in this story.
C: Which is why they don’t like her in the 19th Century, I guess.
A: Yeah. I’m actually gonna end on Captain Kendall’s description of Ann Saunders, which I can’t help but read as a compliment.
A: “Ann Saunders had more strength in her calamity than most of the men.” Ann Saunders helped to keep six people, including herself, alive at sea in these unthinkable circumstances. Her fiancé, James Friar, gave up his life, and she subsisted off his remains. What did your significant other get you for Valentine’s Day?
C: So no Liverpool accents in that one, then?
A: I thought better of it on this occasion. We have had a little bit of feedback on the stunning quality of our accents. So we’ve decided to do a little something about it.
C: We’re gonna play a fun game. I’ll read the word ‘cannibalism’ in some different languages, which I may not speak, and then Alix will try to guess what language I’m trying to use!
A: This is going to go very well. It’ll diversity our audience and our reach, and will push Carmella’s accents to the next level.
C: [Laughing] I like that it’s got ‘Irish: Cannibalism’. Cool. Cool. Thank you, Ireland.
A: Do I get that one as just a bonus?
C: Yeah. What about ‘Kannibalismus’?
A: Welsh. Oh, do it again?
C: [In a Welsh accent] Canibaliaeth.
A: See, if you’d done it in an accent I’d have got it!
A: Can we have some accents please, Carmella?
C: I can’t do most of these accents! ‘Ljudožderstvo’?
C: Um, actually it was Croatian.
A: I’m sorry to our Croatian listeners.
C: Hungarian. Probably not said like that.
A: We brought this on ourselves by saying that we were going to play fun games.
A: I’m on… zero out of five so far.
A: I got one!
C: There we go. I think that, um, that’s enough of that.
A: We’ll go out on a high. Carmella, for Valentine’s Day I baked some cookies.
A: Would you like a cookie either in the shape of a bone, or in the shape of a person who has had his leg chopped off? Or bitten off. Depending on the quality of my cookie cutter.
C: Why stop at one, you know?
A: It gets a bit more-ish, doesn’t it? So we’re going to take a quick snack break, but we will be back to talk about cannibalism in pop culture.
[Theme music – Daniel Wackett]
C: Alix, would you like to talk about survival cannibalism in fiction?
A: I would love to. We do need something to tide us over between our true-life survival cannibalism cases, after all.
C: So first of all, I want to start out with a shout-out to the book A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin, which both Alix and I have read – and love – and Elyssa has been very kind about our podcast and has left us a review.
A: “Fascinating, meticulously researched, and scandalously hilarious.”
C: Thank you, Elyssa, that’s really kind!
A: I’ll take that.
C: And because we are so appreciative and because we loved her book so much, we want all of you to read it! So head over to our Twitter @CastingLotsPod to win a copy of the book.
A: Like, retweet, maybe throw in a comment or two, and we will announce the winner of our second giveaway on the 1st of March. So get Tweeting! So, speaking of A Land So Wild – and we’re not going to spoil anything, because, after all, we’re going to give one of our lucky readers a copy – but, Carmella, how do you feel about the ties between cannibalism and romance?
C: I mean, isn’t it just so beautiful as a story? What’s better than, you know, two shipmates, or whatever situation you’re in, going on a journey together, realising they’re in love, and then there’s also cannibalism?
A: Personally I think any story’s improved with cannibalism. Now, as we’ve been researching for this podcast, there have been a few names that have been popping up time and again. In the non-fiction, most of this is Cannibalism and Common Law, but in terms of fiction, I keep seeing one specific book. That I literally cannot read.
A: This is a book called The Catamaran by Momoka Kimichika. This is in Japanese. And its full title is The Catamaran: Grief of the three men and woman drifting in the Pacific Ocean The ultimate love survival Erotism and Cannibalism What is soul salvation.
C: They have really crammed in the keywords to the title just to get that good Amazon SEO kind of thing.
A: And I really want to read this. I’ve asked the internet to translate for me the blurb. And I’ve not read this yet. So, Carmella.
A: Would you like to hear the blurb of the erotic cannibalism story?
C: [Laughs] Yes please!
A: “I love you. From the bottom of my heart. With a man wearing a prosthesis working in a forensic classroom. My wife and a Japanese-Korean half coroner – a woman with long hair there.The triangular relationship begins with the appearance of an up-and-coming film director who has fled from Uyghur Autonomous Region. With a plastic surgeon who keeps giving mystery revelation, a hearing-impaired boy engaged in a sunken ship salvage trying to save his wife also joined. The world starts to move.” – This is my favourite quote – “Sexual love movie filmed while crushing the corpse.”
C: [Laughs] Oh no!
A: “Cannibalism as the pole of love at sea” – that’s also a good one. “‘I don’t need words anymore. I buried the dead (words) in my belly’, Arthur Rambow, Season of Hell. Bali where the gods live. Life after the incident at Tokyo Bay Yacht Harbor. A feast of love and sex that takes place in a forensic classroom!” I don’t know what is happening in this book, but I want to read it!
C: I mean, is that Google Translate, or is it just really that ridiculous?
A: I think quite a lot of it is Google Translate.
C: It started sounding like an Allen Ginsberg poem towards the end there, though.
A: There was definitely some poetry vibes. I think some of it was quotation. “Sexual love movie filmed while crushing the corpse. Cannibalism as the pole of love at sea.”
C: I adore that. [Laughs]
A: So I can’t give you any more information about that book, but it exists. I would like to read it. And then probably bleach my eyes. Carmella, I believe you have read some more sensible books?
C: [Laughs] I can’t- I can’t follow on from that, I’m afraid.
A: Otherwise I’m going to have to start talking about how in The Jonah Man by Henry Carlisle-
C: We’ve already talked about it!
A: They insist that Captain Pollard had a sexual relationship with his aunt. See, we’re drawing these connections between romance and cannibalism again. It’s not just us. In fact, so many people do it, it’s kind of weird. What is the name of that fantastic essay that we’ve read regarding Herman Melville?
C: Oh, um… ‘Lovers of the flesh’?
A: ‘Lovers of Human Flesh: Homosexuality and Cannibalism in the Works of Herman Melville’.
C: Beautiful. I mean, The Terror; we’ve discussed that extensively in our episode on the Franklin Expedition, So, I think The Terror is a very interesting contrast with A Land So Wild. Because both of them are based on the Franklin Expedition… ish – A Land So Wild is one of the rescue missions going after a fictional version of the Franklin Expedition. But in The Terror, what we’ve got is gay romance, leading to the main gay couple being the evil cannibals. ‘Cause… evil gay villains who are cannibals, I guess? Whereas A Land So Wild is far less homophobic!
A: That is what we want from our cannibalism media. As we say, equal opportunities. And we did cover this a bit in your Franklin episode, but I had some issues, more with The Terror TV show – I have to confess I’ve not read the book – but the connections were drawn between the evil bad cannibals and the good pure people who didn’t want to be cannibals.
C: For example Goodsir, who, I assumed, watching the show, that was a made-up name, because, “Oh, you called the good guy Goodsir?” But as we know, it was actually the name of the ship’s assistant surgeon.
A: Fun fact! Goodsir is actually one of the only expeditionaries who you can go and see. His body – at least, 90 percent believed to be his body – was repatriated. It’s down at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. It is entombed within their Franklin memorial. Technically, I think that he’s the real villain of the piece.
A: I think he’s a Badsir!
A: In the TV show, not in real life – I’m making no aspersions on his actual character. He killed the monkey. There’s a scene where he wants his camera to be carried, and he doesn’t care about the fact that he makes a sick man carry it. He… Guilt-shames people for eating human bodies.
C: I don’t know what you mean.
A: I just think that if you rewatch The Terror and look past the fact that his name is Goodsir-
A: His actions have a detrimental consequence.
C: Thank you for that, Alix.
A: He’s the real villain. I might have binge-watched all of The Terror in less than 24 hours.
C: I’d also say The Terror and A Land So Wild – also a contrast based on the Inuit racism. So The Terror’s quite… yikes. Whereas A Land So Wild seems to be carefully incorporating the importance of Inuit oral testimony in these stories.
A: That is very fair. And we can see this influence – or lack of – with Davidie Kootook, and the fact that all of the stories that we know about Marten Hartwell are from a white perspective. And I feel we can’t mention oral testimony and not slide over to the fact that we do have an entire playlist on Spotify. It sort of counts as fiction – ‘The Marten Hartwell Story’ certainly is a fictitious rendition of that one – and it’s really difficult to talk about these songs and not quote them. More aptly, sing them. Go listen to our playlist!
C: We’ll post it on Twitter, but you can also find it on Spotify by searching for ‘Casting Lots’, but just not in the podcast section. Although do that as well.
A: Definitely do that as well. Although, if this is your first episode of Casting Lots – it’s not normally quite like this.
C: The first half was a pretty accurate picture.
C: Um, shall we talk about some other ones… Have you read Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch?
A: I think it’s safe to say I’ve not read any of these.
C: Oh, okay.
C: This is quite a good one. So it’s a very Dickensian-
C: Sort of pastiche, I would go as far as to say. About a young lad who gets employed to go with a collector of wild beasts and strange creatures, and the collector wants to go and fetch a Komodo dragon.
C: Obviously. So they go and fetch a Komodo dragon – it’s very Whaleship Essex. So they go to an island, they get the Komodo dragon. I mean, this is kind of spoilers ‘cause now we’re halfway through the book, but you know what’s coming ‘cause I’ve mentioned it already. And obviously it doesn’t go to plan, and what you end up with is some crew members and a Komodo dragon in a boat.
A: This sounds a bit like The Life of Pi.
C: The Life of Pi was gonna be my other one that I mentioned. So, just to drag a friend of ours-
C: The Life of Pi is about cannibalism, because, as it very subtly hints, the animals are actually people all along. And our dear friend Nur did not realise that, and was very, very distraught to find out that actually Pi was a cannibal. So I’m sorry if you missed the subtleties of that book.
A: We can promise that we are not subtle about our cannibalism here at Casting Lots. And, with that in mind, I’ve got – moving from the realms of literature to film – there’s a couple more that we can go for. There is the film Ravenous.
C: Oh yes?
A: Which I’m not gonna spoil too deeply, because we may or may not be discussing its inspiration at a later date. But it is inspired by a true frontier tale of American survival cannibalism. And, to round this off nicely and cheerfully, there is always Cannibal! The Musical. A musical about a cannibal. It’s by the people that did South Park and The Book of Mormon.
C: So you can bet that it’s respectful and tasteful.
A: Everything about cannibalism is tasteful.
C: Apart from that joke.
C: So, I hope that you enjoy these recommendations for books and films to go away and experience with your significant other on your date night tonight.
A: We will provide the full list of films, books, and music recommendations, not only for Valentine’s Day, but to help you survive until the rescue ship of Casting Lots returns.
C: That’s right, guys, there will be a Season 2!
A: If you thought our stories were niche and obscure before, you’ve heard nothing yet.
C: [Laughs] Follow us on social media @CastingLotsPod, or Casting Lots Podcast on Facebook for future announcements, and don’t forget our Twitter giveaway to win a copy of A Land So Wild. Also, make sure to follow the hashtag #MorbidAudio, where you can find out more about both us and our podcast network companions, The Grave History Podcast. If you like morbid audio, you’ll like them too!
[Outro Music – Daniel Wackett]
A: We hope you’ve enjoyed this surprise extra helping of Casting Lots. Happy Valentine’s Day to all our listeners, and hopefully you’ll be hearing from us soon.
[Outro music continues]
A: Casting Lots Podcast can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr as @CastingLotsPod, and on Facebook as Casting Lots Podcast.
C: If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and please rate, review and share to bring more people to the table.
A: Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast, is researched, written and recorded by Alix and Carmella, with post-production and editing also by Carmella and Alix. Art and logo design by Riley – @Tallestfriend on Twitter and Instagram – with audio and music by Daniel Wackett – Daniel Wackett on SoundCloud and @ds_wack on Twitter. Casting Lots is part of the Morbid Audio Podcast Network – search #MorbidAudio on Twitter – and the network’s music is provided by Mikaela Moody – mikaelamoody1 on Bandcamp.
[Morbid Audio Sting – Mikaela Moody]
A: Oh, who thought cannibalism would be such an aphrodisiac?
C: How long did it take you to script that one?
A: Not scripted!
A: Not scripted!
C: Yes!! I can’t do the-