Around the World in Search of Whales:
A Journal of the Lucy Ann Voyage, 1841-1844
Non-fiction, hard bound, 236 pages, 125 color illustrations
by John F. Martin, Edited by Kenneth R. Martin
Book talk and signing with editor Kenneth R. Martin | January 7, 4 pm.
This was a free event, offered as part of the 21st Annual Moby-Dick Marathon.
This non-fiction book is a recounting of a 31-month whaling voyage aboard the whaleship Lucy Ann (1841-1844). It presents the personal account and illustrations of whaleman-artist John F. Martin.
“Cursed whaling and quit it. Dam them [who] will not get up after night and burn their shirts to make a light to curse a whaleship.” With that final journal entry, written in June 1844 after a homecoming bender, John F. Martin kissed off his eventful, eight-year whaling career. But he retained his journal. How fortunate for posterity!
Martin went to sea in his teens. By his last whaling voyage, a thirty-one month circumnavigation aboard the Wilmington whaleship Lucy Ann, he was a seasoned, savvy observer with a humorous take on the whaling trade. His shipboard journal was a vivid, detailed account of life aboard Lucy Ann: dangerous encounters, shipboard shenanigans, faraway ports, good times, bad food, close scrapes, and dashed hopes, described in a rollicking comic style worthy of a professional author. But that was not all. Martin beautified his tidy daily entries with dozens of exquisite watercolors, large and small: ships, sea creatures (especially whales of many types), exotic strangers, whaling encounters, and distant island landfalls. Small wonder his journal is widely regarded as the best of its genre.
Over many decades, maritime scholars and enthusiasts have published Martin’s quotable tidbits and handsome paintings in piecemeal fashion because they engage casual readers and specialists alike. Now at last, his masterpiece has been handsomely published in its entirety for all to savor.
John Martin deserves no less.
Illustration from Martin’s journal: July 27, 1843 “In the forenoon a whale breached entirely out of the water with the exception of his flukes.”
Last modified: April 25, 2017