NHA Publishes New Book About Susan and Charles Veeder by Island Author Betsy Tyler

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce the release of A Thousand Leagues of Blue: The Whaling Voyages of Charles and Susan Veeder of Nantucket, a new publication by Betsy Tyler, in late November. This beautifully illustrated, 256-page hardcover publication is the true story of the trials and tribulations of a family enmeshed in the whaling industry and the ensuing drama and destruction wrought by this brutal pursuit.

Portrait of Susan Austin Veeder, circa 1850. Gift of Barbara Johnson. 1994.28.1

In the center of the tale is an ordinary woman, Susan Veeder, who led an extraordinary life. She lived on a whaleship for more than four years, recorded her experiences in a rare, illustrated journal, and then settled back into her Nantucket home while her husband and sons all returned to the sea, in voyage after voyage. In a shocking denouement to their lives, Susan’s husband, Charles Veeder, a respected and successful whaling captain, devolved into a drunken madman, became enamored of a Polynesian woman and chose to remain in the South Seas for the rest of his life.

Portrait of Captain Charles Veeder, by James Hathaway, circa 1845. Gift of the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association. 1999.30.2

“What a fascinating contrast between Susan and Charles. Betsy does a superb job of describing how the island and its people transitioned from whaling through the triptych of disasters—the Great Fire, Gold Rush, and Civil War—to become a summer resort. Charles is absolutely fascinating, and Susan is an equally compelling figure in her own quiet, steadfast way,” says author Nat Philbrick. “The story of this couple gets at the dark heart of what Nantucket was about. By bearing witness to the world of the whalemen, Susan was invested with a firsthand knowledge and experience that almost none of her female peers shared.”

Susan Veeder’s illustrated journal from her and Charles’s 1848–53 voyage aboard the ship Nauticon is one of the jewels of the NHA’s collection. A Thousand Leagues of Blue quotes extensively from this unique resource and reproduces many of Susan’s delicate watercolor drawings

A NHA Research Fellow, Betsy Tyler was the inaugural Obed Macy Research Chair at the NHA from 2012 to 2016 and is the former editor of Historic Nantucket. She is also the author of Sometimes Think of Me: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries (NHA, 2010); ’Sconset Actors Colony: Broadway Offshore (NHA, 2011); and the NHA Historic Properties Guide (2015). The NHA is thrilled to have the opportunity to release another publication by Tyler.

A Thousand Leagues of Blue: The Whaling Voyages of Charles and Susan Veeder of Nantucket will be available at the Museum Shop this November.

For more information or to pre-order this publication, please call (508) 228-1894, ext. 138.


The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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