Cradle of the Deep: The Grand Adventures of Joan Lowell that Were Not Quite True

Joan Lowell

Cradle of the Deep: The Grand Adventures of Joan Lowell that Were Not Quite True
Feral House,U.S.
United States
9 May 2023

Cradle of the Deep: The Grand Adventures of Joan Lowell that Were Not Quite True

Joan Lowell

It was the bestselling book that became a scandal!

In 1923, Joan Lowell was an aspiring writer and rising silent film star in Hollywood. Young, beautiful, and talented, she was adored by all. Then she published her autobiography: a rip-roaring memoir of a young girl growing up on a schooner with her hearty sea captain father and a crew of salty sailors and the incredible and death-defying adventures she had traveling the world!

Except…none of it was true.

Born in 1902 in Berkeley, California as Helen Wagner to a middle-class family. Yes, her father was a Pacific Ocean merchant schooner captain. And yes, he took Joan-and her mother-on a 15-month sailing adventure when she was a girl. After knocking around odd jobs in San Francisco, young Helen moved to Los Angeles to take acting lessons and began her career. Her early notable roles were in pirate movies as either the intrepid heroine or damsel in distress.

She published her autobiography which became a runaway best-seller in 1929. But a few months later, the truth was revealed. She had never left the shores of California! Amidst the scandal, Joan remained defiant, telling the Pittsburgh Press in 1930, Eighty percent of it was true and the rest I colored up. I made some changes to protect people and the rest to make it better reading. That’s an author’s privilege.

The book was cussed and discussed across the country. It was reclassified as fiction and continued to sell. Many fans at the time felt that it was a ripping good story and in the long tradition of a sailor’s right to embellish the most mundane of tales. She then worked as a tabloid reporter and wrote Gal Reporter before moving to Pennsylvania to take up farming. She wanted to write a follow-up (Kicked Out of the Cradle), but no publisher touch it. Lowell made her final film in 1934-a loose adaptation of Cradle of the Deep-with her in the lead role.

Joan Lowell left Hollywood and married a real-life sea captain in 1936. They sailed to Brazil to begin a new life owning a coffee plantation. Lowell never lost her sense of adventure, writing about her life in Brazil in the 1952 memoir, Promised Land. Lowell died in Brazil in 1967 under mysterious circumstances, a consummate Lady Adventurer to her last day

The Feral House edition of Cradle of the Deep features archival photos and press clippings and a short biography of Joan Lowell and her infamous book.

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