J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement

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"J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" is an 1884 short story by a then-young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is based on the real mystery of the abandonment of the Mary Celeste, and was published anonymously in the January 1884 issue of the respected Cornhill Magazine.


The story popularised the mystery of the Mary Celeste, and though Doyle drew heavily on the original incident, some of the fictional elements he introduced have come to replace the real events in the popular imagination. Doyle spelt the name of the ship Marie Celeste.[1] His story reached a much wider audience than did the story of the Mary Celeste, which has led to the widespread belief that Marie Celeste was the name of the real ship. In the story, the ship is in an almost perfect state when discovered (the Mary Celeste had been in heavy weather and was water logged) and the boats are still present (the Mary Celeste's one boat was actually missing).


First printed anonymously in Cornhill Magazine, January 1884, illustrated by William Small, "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" has been reprinted a number of times. The Boston Herald reprinted it on 3 April 1885,[2] and it was anthologised in Dreamland and Ghostland (1887),[3] The Captain of the Polestar and Other Tales (1890)[4] and Tales of Pirates and Blue Water (1922).[5]


When the story was first published, anonymously, one reviewer sought to attribute it to Robert Louis Stevenson, while critics compared it to Edgar Allan Poe. Though fiction, it was presented as an eye-witness account of the end met by those on the mysterious "ghost ship"; much to Doyle's astonishment, some, including the Boston Herald, which reprinted the tale, took the story as a true account.

See also[edit]


  • Richard Lancelyn Green & John Michael Gibson, A Bibliography of A. Conan Doyle, First Revised edition, New York, Hudson House, 2000.
  1. ^ Macdonald Hastings, Mary Celeste, (1971) ISBN 0-7181-1024-2
  2. ^ Boston Herald (3 April 1885) "Strange Tale of the Sea. Remarkable Voyage of the Brig Marie Celeste. A Missing Crew and What Became of Them. A Mystery Explained After Many Years"
  3. ^ George Redway (1887) Dreamland and Ghostland vol. 2: Strange Stories of Coincidence and Ghostly Adventure
  4. ^ A collection of Doyle's short stories.
  5. ^ Another collection of Doyle's short stories, also called The Dealings of Captain Sharkey and Other Tales of Pirates.

External links[edit]