Like Allen’s first book, Wake of the Invercauld is inspired by personal family history. Allen is the great-granddaughter of Robert Holding, a young sailor who was shipwrecked with 19 others on the Auckland Islands in 1864. Using survivors’ accounts, including Holding’s various ship records, and her own research during visits to the Auckland Islands in 1993 and 1995, Madelene Ferguson Allen brings to light a neglected piece of maritime history. She describes life on the Scottish sailing ship the Invercauld and the sailors’ struggle for survival on the Auckland Islands. After the shipwreck, the hierarchy of authority that had existed on the ship was abandoned and sailors relied on their own cunning for survival. Some even turned to cannibalism.