'The moment they fell into the water the waves caught them and dashed them violently against the rocks, and the survivors on shore could perceive the unfortunate creatures...struggling amidst the waves, and one by one sinking under them.' (Hereford Times, 28 January 1854) The wrecking of the RMS Tayleur made headlines nearly 60 years before the Titanic. Both were run by the White Star Line, both were heralded as the most splendid ships of their time - and both sank in tragic circumstances on their maiden voyages. On 19 January 1854 the Tayleur, a large merchant vessel, left Liverpool for Australia; packed with hopeful emigrants, her hold stuffed with cargo. On the 160th anniversary of the disaster, Gill Hoffs reveals new theories behind the disaster and tells the stories of the passengers and crew on the ill-fated vessel: Captain John Noble, record breaking hero of the Gold Rush era. Ship surgeon Robert Hannay Cunningham and his young family, on their way to a new life among the prospectors of Tent City. Samuel Carby, ex-convict, returning to the gold fields with his new wife - and a fortune sewn into her corsets.
But the ship's revolutionary iron hull prevented its compasses from working. Lost in the Irish Sea, a storm swept the Tayleur and the 650 people aboard towards a cliff, studded with rocks 'black as death'. What happened next shocked the world.
Gill Hoffs grew up on the Scottish coast before gaining a BSc in Psychology from the University of Glasgow. She worked with children with a variety of needs before she had her son in 2007. Gill's short nonfiction, Black Fish won the 2011 Spilling Ink Nonfiction Prize.