Whitby in North Yorkshire has been associated with many famous people over the years.
One of the first was Caedmon an English poet who started out as an Anglo-Saxon herdsman, residing out Whitby Abbey between 1657 to 1680 A.D. during the period that the Abbess St Hilda presided.
Two great explorers also connected to the town, Captain James Cook and Sir William Scoresby.
Captain James Cook (1728 to 1779) originated from Marton, but came to Whitby in 1746 when he began his apprenticeship to Capt John Walker.
His Voyage of Discovery began (1768 to 71) on the ship Endeavour, , with the expedition been funded by the Royal Society of London, which led to Cook and his crew being the first Caucasians to land in Australia and set foot. The cook began his second voyage of discovery 1772 to 75 aboard the ship Resolution, which disproved the theory of the great Southern continent and went on to chart to areas of Antarctica.
The final voyage of discovery 1776 to 80 on the ship Resolution and Discovery, travelled down the northwestern coast of North America, he did not return from this voyage being killed in Hawaii in 1779 whilst in conflict on the subject of the theft of a boat.
Sir William Scoresby (1760 to 1829) and his son Capt. William Scoresby Jr (1789 to 1857) were inventors, scientists and explorers been very successful at whaling captains. Scoresby senior sailed his ship Resolution within 510 miles of the North Pole which at the time was the highest latitude ever attained by a sailing ship in 1807. It is also famous for being the inventor of the crow’s nest, and it is suggested that the three tier pulpit in St Mary's church could have been the inspiration for this design.
Bram Stoker (1847 to 1912) stayed in Whitby in 1890 whilst writing the world-famous book Dracula was inspired by the town, indeed at the beginning of the book the shipwreck of the Demeter occurs in Whitby Harbour on the beach. Dracula was first published in 1897 and became Stoker's most famous book.
Lewis Carroll (1824 to 1889) frequented the town on many occasions and it is suggested that he was inspired by the town whilst writing The Walrus and the Carpenter. One of his many publicised works was a prime called The Lady of Ladle which was published in the Whitby Gazette.
Charles Dickens definitely visited Whitby and is reputed to have stayed that The Black Horse public house in Church Street.
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Michael Faber wrote a book called One hundred and ninety nine steps.
Henry Freeman is a famous lifeboat man from Whitby, he was particularly noted for the fact he was the sole survivor of the 1861 lifeboat disaster. On February 9, 1861 Whitby faced one of its fiercest storms ever and on this morning Henry started his first rescue of the day at 8:30 AM in the morning alongside fellow lifeboat members William Dryden, John Dixon, Robert Ledley, John Storr and George Martin. It would not be the first rescue of the day this was a particularly bad storm.
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853 to 1941) originated from Leeds, and was inspired by his father who was a watercolour artist, etcher and was also a lithographer. This obviously would have encouraged his son to have an interest in photography, which at the time was a relatively new invention. Frank came to live in Whitby in 1871 forming his first photographic studio in what originally been a jet workshop in 1875. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society which is the highest accolade you can achieve in the photographic world.
His photographs of the local fishermen and women have become famous and that a great attraction for tourists to the studio which is now on Flowergate in Whitby.
In times gone by Whitby made its living from whaling and fishing but the first industry is now gone completely and the fishing fleet is diminished to a very small part of Whitby's industry. For many decades the backbone of Whitby has been tourism, with its beautiful cobbled streets and cottages set with the River Esk dividing the town in the East and West. Whitby enjoys a very strong tourism trade with a healthy calendar of events during the summer drawing in the crowds, with many people staying in some of the towns and quaint Whitby yards which provide nice settings for Whitby holiday cottages
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