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Listed below you will find some historical background detail that may add context to your reading.




1. The length of Fire Island has grown an additional five miles since the events in this novel took place. Because of Fire Island’s geographic position, littoral drift pushes westward, causing a natural accretion of sand. Therefore, the Fire Island Lighthouse currently sits miles from what is now the easternmost tip of the island. Those additional miles of beach are now called Robert Moses State Park.


2. The Fire Island Lighthouse that stood during the events in this novel was the original 80-foot Connecticut bluestone tower built in 1826. The one that now stands is its replacement, built in 1858, a seventeen-story brick tower.


3. At the time of the events of this novel, Fire Island had no named communities. Now it can be said that the location of the Dominy Inn was in what is now called Kismet; the Smith Oaks’ house was in what is now called Ocean Beach, and the wreck of the Elizabeth occurred on the beach of what is now Point-O-Woods.


4. Although the number of casualties that occurred in the wreck of the Elizabeth was comparatively small to other maritime disasters, the story received national coverage for months because of Margaret Fuller’s fame. The sad death of one held so dear made the general public aware of the woeful deficiencies in the country’s burgeoning Life Saving System. The outcry resulted in implementations of vast improvements in maritime safety.

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