Thanks to Oxford World’s Classics

I’m pleased to announce that Oxford World’s Classics have agreed to help out with the  Moby-Dick marathon by providing copies of the novel we can use over the weekend. These will be available for readers and audience members so they can follow along with the reading over the weekend. They will also be very helpful for the timekeepers and other volunteers. The OWC edition includes a helpful introduction by Tony Tanner and extracts from Melville’s correspondence with his literary mentor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which they discuss many of the ideas Melville explores in his novel.

These books will be a great help to us over the weekend so the support of OWC is much appreciated.



Caroline Hack, who will be reading in the marathon weekend (4-6 May 2013), is a long-time Moby-Dick fan, and has used the novel in many of her artworks over the years. She has kindly offered to let us use some bunting she made from her custom Moby-Dick themed fabric. It will be used to decorate the table of the Kathleen & May, the schooner on which some of the reading will take place.

Caroline has produced some lovely limited-edition fabric whales, and acrylic ‘worry whales’ one of which was a great help before my public lecture last week.

There is still time to sign up to read in the Moby-Dick marathon, but places are limited, so go here and sign up for a 10-15 minute slot as soon as possible.

From Whaling to MacFisheries. Free public lecture 24 April, 2013

The second in our series of free public lectures, by Gavin Hunter, takes place on Wednesday April 24th entitled From Whaling to MacFisheries: Leverhulme, Soap & the Outer Hebrides. This lecture will explore the involvement of the Lever Brothers soap manufacturing empire in whaling and fishing on the islands of Lewis and Harris.

The lecture is part of the Moby Dick Lecture Series at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and is free to attend.

Picture of the whaling station on Harris is from Virtual Hebrides

Moby-Dick Lecture Series Begins April 17th

The Moby-Dick lecture series begins on Wednesday April 17th, 1-2pm, at the Merseyside Maritime Museum 4th Floor Lecture Theatre with a talk entitled ‘From Liverpool’s Greenland Street to Greenland’s Liverpool Coast: William Scoresby Jr., Whaling, and Exploration’ by Dr. Chris Routledge. The talk will offer a brief history of whaling in Liverpool and consider William Scoresby Jr.’s short career as a Liverpool whaler. Snubbed by the Admiralty, Scoresby attempted to explore and document the Arctic regions alongside his commercial duties as the commander of a whale ship.

More information about the lecture series is here. It is still not too late to volunteer to read in the Moby-Dick marathon. For more information, visit this page.

Cyrus Patell’s Summary of Moby-Dick

New York University Associate Professor Cyrus Patell spent most of last autumn summarising each chapter of Moby-Dick as it came up in the Moby-Dick Big Read. His chapter summaries are online at his blog and are well worth reading if you are participating in the live marathon read in Liverpool this May. What’s that, you haven’t volunteered yet? Well what are you waiting for?

Marathon Weekend: Events for Families and Children

In the build-up to the Moby-Dick festival weekend I’m focussing on events taking place at the Maritime Museum and Museum of Liverpool. Besides the marathon reading of Moby-Dick (and if you haven’t already signed up, be quick before all the chapters go) and the lecture series running in April and May, there are some great events taking place over the weekend of May 4th-6th. Last week I wrote about two public talks, on scrimshaw and Herman Melville, which are for adults, but there are also lots of things going on to keep families with children occupied.

At the Maritime Museum there are Model Magic workshops on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (1-4pm), and on Monday 6th there’s a look at endangered species from the point of view of customs officers. What whale-related items will you find on the Whale Trail? At the nearby Museum of Liverpool there are tales of whales and whaling, and performances by the Shanty Kings to get you in a nautical mood. On Sunday afternoon (2pm-3pm and 3.30pm-4.30pm) children’s author Jon Mayhew will be reading tales of terror on the high seas on board the historic schooner Kathleen & May, moored outside the Maritime Museum entrance.

The weekend offers all kinds of great whale-related events for adults and children in a celebration of Liverpool’s whaling past, and the most famous literary whale of all, Moby Dick.

Moby-Dick Marathon Weekend: Talks on Scrimshaw and Melville in Liverpool

Apart from the marathon reading (you can volunteer to read a chapter here if you haven’t already) there is a full programme of events for adults and children taking place at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool over the weekend of May 4th-6th. In this post I want to highlight two of the free talks taking place over the weekend.

On Saturday, May 4th, Dr. Janet West, from the Scott Polar Research Institute, will be talking about Scrimshaw in the Age of Moby-Dick (3pm-4pm Merseyside Maritime Museum). Scrimshaw was a craft that began on whaling ships and involved carving, cutting and polishing whale teeth and bones. These illustrated whale hunts, or recorded important events during voyages; they are often very beautiful. You can see examples of scrimshaw in the Museum as part of the Whale Trail. Dr. West’s talk promises to give fascinating insights into this rare art form.

On Monday May 6th, at the Museum of Liverpool, the focus shifts to the time Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, spent in Liverpool, with Katie McGettigan’s talk ‘Sailors love this Liverpool’: Herman Melville and Liverpool in Fact and Fiction (2pm-3pm Museum of Liverpool).

Melville visited Liverpool twice, and used the city as the setting for part of his 1849 novel Redburn, which describes the adventures of a young sailor on his first voyage. Examining both Melville’s real-life and literary dealings with the city, this talk will look at what Melville might have experienced as a sailor visiting Liverpool in the 1840s, before looking at Melville’s representation of Liverpool and its people in his fiction. An interactive map of Melville’s Liverpool is here.

The full programme of events for adults and children is here. If you haven’t yet volunteered to read a chapter in the marathon, you can do so here. Most available places are now on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th of May.

How to take part in the Moby Dick on the Mersey Marathon Reading

The Moby Dick on the Mersey marathon reading over the weekend of May 4th-6th, 2013 will bring together readers from across the Merseyside, the Northwest, and further afield to take part in what promises to be a challenging and highly enjoyable event. Drop in and listen to a chapter or two, stick around for the whole thing, or even volunteer to read. Volunteers will each read a short chapter or part-chapter, and the reading will take approximately 26 hours, spanning all three days. If you would like to volunteer, take a look at the  reading schedule, which you can find here, then go over to the sign-up page and let us know when you would like to read.

Events for the Marathon Weekend

Apart from the lecture series taking place in April and May, exploring Liverpool’s links with Melville and whaling, we’ve been planning some talks and events for the weekend of the reading itself. These are all more or less confirmed, but timings for some have yet to be fixed. Events will take place in the Maritime Museum, on board the schooner Kathleen & May, and at the Museum of Liverpool.

On Saturday May 4th We have a talk about scrimshaw by international expert Janet West, and on Sunday 5th Katie McGettigan will be exploring Melville’s time in Liverpool. The watery part of the world is represented by a performance of the medieval play Noah, directed by Dr Sarah Peverley and performed by students at the University of Liverpool, and for children, author Jon Mayhew will be telling stories and maybe even reading from his new book Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune. There will also be crafts and other activities, including a ‘whale trail’ around the Maritime Museum.

If you want to participate by reading in the marathon, head over to this page and find out how.