Bizarre Coincidence: Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Parker and Cannibalism

Title page of "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon
Pym of Nantucket" by Edgar Allen Poe

In 1838, Edgar Allen Poe published his first and only novel titled, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket." In it, Pym, a stowaway aboard a whaler, sees all manner of events, including one horrific one connected to a bizarre coincidence. It is a somewhat gruesome tale that features the killing and eating of the cabin boy by the rest of the crew aboard the "Grampus." The cabin boy's name was Richard Parker, a name that would become as involved with cannibalism in reality as it is in fiction.

Roughly six years after "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" was published, a yacht called "Mignonette" sank roughly 1,600 miles from the Cape of Good Hope. The four-man crew abandoned ship and took off in the lifeboat with no fresh water and only a few cans of turnips to sustain them. The 17-year-old cabin boy Richard Parker appears to have gone into a coma from drinking seawater, according to the testimony of his shipmates. They killed him by stabbing him the neck while he slept so they could eat him and drink his blood. They spotted rescue roughly four days later.