The Mystery Of The Mary Celeste

On the anniversary of The Mary Celeste mystery, English Teacher Online invites Grade 5 to take a deeper look into this strange story. You can also read page 50-51 in your Macmillan English book for a different version of the story.

The Mary Celeste was an American merchant ship discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on the 5th of December 1872, near the Azores Islands. The Dei Gratia found her with the lifeboat missing and no hands on board.


The Mary Celeste had plenty of supplies and her cargo was intact. The captain and crew’s belongings were undisturbed, and food was still sitting in the kitchen half eaten. The last entry in the captain’s log was dated 10 days earlier.

At the court hearing, various scenarios were suggested such as mutiny by the crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia or others, and insurance fraud conspiracy. None of these suspicions were proven as no one on board was ever seen again.

The Mary Celeste has become a byword for unexplained desertions and this story has been dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films.

What do you think happened to the Mary Celeste? You can find 5 possible explanations here.

Plan Your Own Explanation

Decide on your main characters, the captain and sailors.

Write about 20 lines of dialogue describing how the crew disappeared.

We will cast, rehearse and perform your skits in class.

You may also like our page, How to Act in a Play.