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Island as Muse

William Shakespeare may have been the first to take Cuttyhunk as muse. Shakespeare and Bartholomew Gosnold shared the same patron, the Earl of Southampton; following Gosnold’s discovery of Cuttyhunk in 1602, Shakespeare likely heard tales of the Earl’s court of this tempestuous and fog-enshrouded isle. The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play, followed shortly after. Therein lies the legend which persists to this day-that Cuttyhunk is The Tempest setting.

Two centuries later, in 1858, Albert Bierstadt took Cuttyhunk as his muse in the dreamlike painting Bartholomew Gosnold at Cuttyhunk. Since then, writers, poets and artists have made Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands their muse.

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