American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

AVERILL, CHARLES (1825?-1868). Charles Averill wrote around a dozen adventure and romance novels between 1847 and 1850, about half of which take place wholly or mostly at sea. The Pirates of Cape Ann (1848) is representative. Here, “Paul Perril, the Pirate,” scourge of postcolonial Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is estranged from his family but watches over them from afar. Though ruthless at sea, Perril has a pure heart and returns to assure his mother that he is still alive. Paul eventually rescues and wins the heart of Bertha, whose cousin Ned has fallen in love with Paul’s sister. Paul returns to society, changes his name, and becomes “Paul Jones, the Patriot” and naval hero.

The Corsair King (1847) tells the story of the noble and honorable Conrad, leader of the “Piratical Empire” in the West Indies. Other novels focus on the ship-plunderers of the Jersey coast (The Wreckers, 1848) and the Mexican-American War at sea (The Secret Service Ship, 1848) and on land (The Mexican Ranchero, 1847). Details about Averill’s life remain obscure. [See also JONES, JOHN PAUL; PIRATE LITERATURE]

Peter H. McCracken