Guest Post, Vaughn Scribner: “Fabricating History PART TWO: The Curious Case Continues”

A few weeks ago, we hosted a guest post from Vaughn Scribner on mermaids. Since sequels are all the rage in Hollywood, we are having him back for seconds.

Mermaid 1

Figure 1: Image from Gottfried’s Histora Antipodum oder Newe Welt (1631). Image after de Bry. Accessed via ULB Sachsen-Anhalt.

Well, here we go again. Just when I thought I had figured out the riddle of Captain John Smith’s alleged seventeenth-century mermaid sighting, research threw me a curve ball. A quick recap: in a recent Junto post, I argued that Alexandre Dumas added a brief (supposedly legitimate) story of Smith meeting a mermaid into his fictional 1849 adventure tale. Dumas’ fabricated account, I demonstrated, steadily gained a life of its own as subsequent historians cited it as fact. I had solved the “Curious Case of John Smith, a Green-Haired Mermaid, and Alexandre Dumas.” Or so I thought. Continue reading