The Mutiny on the Bounty was a mutiny aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh. According to accounts, the sailors were attracted to the "idyllic" life and sexual opportunities afforded on the Pacific island of Tahiti. It has also been argued that they were motivated by Bligh's allegedly harsh treatment of them.
Eighteen mutineers set Bligh afloat in a small boat with eighteen of the twenty-two crew loyal to him. To avoid detection and prevent desertion, the mutineers then variously settled on Pitcairn Island or on Tahiti and burned Bounty off Pitcairn.
In an extraordinary feat of seamanship, Bligh navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, equipped with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.
The British government dispatched HMS Pandora to capture the mutineers, and Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791. Four of the men from Bounty came on board soon after her arrival, and ten more were arrested within a few weeks. These fourteen were imprisoned in a makeshift cell on Pandora's deck. Pandora ran aground on part of the Great Barrier Reef on 29 August 1791, with the loss of 31 of the crew and four of the prisoners. The surviving ten prisoners were eventually repatriated to England, tried in a naval court, with three hanged, four acquitted, and three pardoned.
Descendants of some of the mutineers and Tahitians still live on Pitcairn. The mutiny has been commemorated in books, films, and songs.
The story of the mutiny has been adapted numerous times to the page, the screen, and the stage.
Although William Bligh has frequently been portrayed as a middle-aged man in stage and screen productions about the Bounty, he was thirty-four years old at the time of the mutiny, having been born in 1754. Mary Russell Mitford wrote her poem "Christina, the Maid of the South Seas" in 1811, following the 1810 publication of Captain Mayhew Folger's rediscovery of Pitcairn. Pitcairn's Island: A New Melo Dramatic Ballet of Action, opened in Drury Lane in April 1816, following publication in the Naval Chronicle of an account of the 1814 visit to Pitcairn of Captain Sir Thomas Staines, of the Briton, and Captain Philip Pipon, of the Tagus. Lord Byron published his poem The Island in 1823. Sir John Barrow's book, The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause and Consequences (1831), ensured the enduring fame of the Bounty and her people. Mark Twain describes the mutiny as background to his story "The Great Revolution in Pitcairn" (1879). The Mutineers of the Bounty (original title Les révoltés de la Bounty, 1879) by Jules Verne, based on a work by Gabriel Marcel. R. M. Ballantyne wrote a novel about the mutineers on the Bounty called The Lonely Island (1880). A first movie (The Mutiny of the Bounty, 1916) was made in Australia. A trilogy of novels, (Mutiny on the 'Bounty' (1932), Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn's Island) by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (also published in one volume as The Bounty Trilogy), as well as the movies and television shows based on them, relate fictionalized versions of the mutiny. The second film version was the Australian film In the Wake of the Bounty (1933), starring Errol Flynn as Fletcher Christian. The next movie was Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), which won the Oscar for Best Picture that year. It starred Charles Laughton as Bligh and Clark Gable as Christian. Another film version of the Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) stars Trevor Howard as Bligh and Marlon Brando as Christian. The 1962 motion picture is generally considered the least historically accurate, with such changes or errors as Christian and Bligh's meeting (and subsequently hating) each other at the first sailing of the Bounty, the mutiny's occurring in the middle of the day sparked by Bligh's order to let a sailor die of ingested saltwater poisoning rather than be given water set aside for the breadfruits, and Fletcher Christian's dying from injuries sustained in the fire aboard Bounty while trying to save the ship. Bengt Danielsson, a Kon-Tiki crew member, wrote What Happened on the Bounty in 1962.
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