Pitcairn Island was a tiny uninhabited Eden when, in January 1790, Fletcher Christian and eight sailors, together with six Polynesian men, twelve Tahitian women and one baby, landed from HMS Bounty. There they burned their boat, thus eliminating any chance of a voluntary return to the known world. Their disappearance was to remain a mystery for twenty years. This book discusses the purposes of the Bounty’s voyage, the mutiny and its consequences, but goes further than any previous publications, to relate the gripping drama of subsequent events on Pitcairn - of the fifteen men who landed on the island, only one was alive when they were discovered, twelve had been brutally murdered by their companions and one had commited suicide. The role of the women in shaping events on the island, and their input into the unique identity of the community, is fully considered for the first time. Their support for the men as rival groups-Tahitians or Europeans-or their concern for individuals largely decided which men lived and died, while the women themselves commited some of the murders. Conflicts over property, race and gender brought this group close to total destruction. But out of the clashes of cultures and individual wills between European mutineers and Pacific islanders came, in a brief space of time, the new community of ’Pitcairn Islanders’: a thriving society based on progressive laws relating to sexual equality and the environment, with significant resonances for the reader some two centuries later.
Table of Contents
Contents: Prologue; Preliminaries and the voyage; Tahiti and the Tahitians; The mutiny to Pitcairn Island; Settlement; Revolt and revenge; The women; Discovery; Children, community and culture; Pitcairn abandoned; Pitcairn resettled; Index.