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Indigenous people build lives and culture off the land on Cape Ann. A Gloucester native gains the support of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she fights for her rights in a landmark sex discrimination case. Gloucester’s vibrant music scene yields global success stories. These stories are among the 37 essays that make up the new book Gloucester Encounters: Essays on the Cultural History of the City 1623–2023, which is set to be released on November 7.

The book was created by the Gloucester Cultural Initiative as part of the lead-in to next year’s 400th anniversary of the settlement of the area by Europeans. Yet the anthology does not aim to tell the history of Gloucester. Instead, it offers up a series of memories, reflections, and investigations that collectively create a rich sense of the city’s heritage and culture, says John Christie, a journalist and Gloucester resident who contributed an essay recalling his time working at the Gloucester Daily Times.

“The essays have this underlying appreciation for Gloucester, for it not being what people from outside of it think of us,” Christie says. “We’re not a quaint fishing port our history is tough and hard and our people here know how to make a living.”

The release of the book, which was edited by longtime resident Martin Ray, will be celebrated with a book launch event at the Cape Ann Museum on November 20. The event will include readings from the book and comments by Ray on the process of selecting authors and developing the anthology. The museum’s head librarian and archivist will also share details on the resources that many of the contributors used for the book.

Many notable people with local connections have shared advance praise for the book. Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, calls the book “an amazing collection of stories and insights into one of the most famous fishing ports in the world” that is “rich, authentic and colorful.” Anna Solomon, a Gloucester native and the author of The Book of V, says it is “necessary reading for anyone who knows—or wants to know—this singular place.”

To order a copy of the book, visit