How Did a Hurricane Lead to a Famous Play?

In 1609, nine vessels left England for the newly settled American colony at Jamestown, Virginia. But a hurricane struck the fleet as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean, scattering the ships.

Eight reached Virginia, but the ninth ship was feared lost. Then ten months later, the passengers from that ship arrived in Virginia aboard two boats they had built from the wreckage of their ship, after it had washed ashore on the island of Bermuda.

An account of this voyage, and the storm that left the colonists temporarily in Bermuda, was published in England in 1610. One of the people who read the account was William Shakespeare, the man who is regarded as the greatest playwright the world has ever known.

Inspired by what he read, Shakespeare soon set to work writing a play loosely based on the incident. The play, called “The Tempest,” was first performed in 1612, and ranks among the most brilliant of his 37 plays.