Tag Archives: Scrimshaw

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.