Moby-Dick Marathon

January 4th-5th, 2014

 Schedule  |  Reading Timetable  |  Video  

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece with a 25-hour nonstop public reading of the book during a weekend of activities and events. Our annual event started in 1997 and is now considered one of the world’s best known readathons.

Sponsored by Empire Loan and Rockland Trust

Moby Dick Marathon

2011 Moby-Dick Marathon in progress

Every year, early in January, a local celebrity figure traditionally kicks-off the reading, beginning with the most famous opening line in American literature, “Call me Ishmael.” From the moment those words are uttered to approximately 25 hours later when Ishmael is rescued from the Pacific by the Rachel, more than 150 readers each will have read a short passage from this novel. Some will have read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage will have been read from Braille.  The Seamen’s Bethel will have hosted the singing of “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale” and the reading of Father Mapple’s sermon. At the end, a few hardy souls will have stayed for the whole adventure.

Readers will include professors, fishermen, schoolteachers, students, congressmen, mayors, city councillors, journalists, physicians, clergy, and other lovers of Melville and Moby-Dick.

Click here to download the Moby-Dick 2014 Poster (PDF)

Livestreaming of the event was provided throughout the weekend for those who could not make it to New Bedford. To view on Smartphones and tablets, a downloadable free livestream app is available. Use #MDM18 in all social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest.

2014 Schedule

UPDATE: The New Bedford Whaling Museum was closed Friday, January 3 due to the snow forecast. The Moby-Dick Marathon continued, January 4-5 as scheduled with the following updates:

CANCELED – Friday, January 3rd dinner was canceled. Ticketholders were reimbursed.

POSTPONED – “Martin and Moby” exhibit opening of works by Mattapoisett artist Peter Michael Martin was postponed to Sunday, January 5 at 1:00 p.m. immediately following the marathon.

Saturday, January 4

10:00 a.m. – “Stump the Scholars”, Cook Memorial Theater

11:30 a.m. – Moby-Dick “Extracts,” read by the Melville Society, Bourne Building

11:50 a.m. – Welcome, James Russell, President and CEO

12:00 p.m. – Moby-Dick Marathon reading begins, Bourne Building

1:30 p.m. – Chapters 7-9 in the Seamen’s Bethel

2:30 p.m. – Marathon continues in the Jacobs Family Gallery

2:00-3:00 p.m. – Chat with Melville scholars, Wattles Family Gallery

4:00-5:30 p.m. – Chat with Melville artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery

6:00-7:00 p.m. – Conversation with Melville artist Vanessa Hodgkinson, Wattles Gallery

7:00 p.m. – Chapters 35-40 “Midnight, Forecastle” performed by Culture*Park

8:00 p.m. – Marathon continues, Jacobs Family Gallery

Sunday, January 5

9:30-11:00 a.m. – Chat with Melville scholars, Wattles Family Gallery

10:00-11:30 a.m. – Chat with Melville artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery

1:00 p.m. – Marathon finale

1:00 p.m.  – Exhibit opening Martin & Moby, Centre Street Gallery


Marathon Reading Timetable: Approximate Time, Page and Chapter in the book for each Watch (based on notes from 2008). Click here for the Reading Timetable.

In addition to the nonstop reading, additional activities that weekend included ongoing related exhibitions in the Museum and Research Library.

The public was cordially invited to come and go at any time during the marathon, or stay awake for the entire 25 hours and win a prize.
Refreshments were available for sale throughout the marathon.
Admission for the entire event was free.

DONATIONS: Please help us preserve this important community event by  making your donation today.

Was there a real Moby Dick?

Share this event with #mdm18 , also use #HermanMelville , #readathon #MobyDick

Link to the Moby-Dick Marathon 2013 page

Flickr slideshow of the Moby-Dick Marathon in 2011  #MDM15


Thank you to Empire Loan Charitable Foundation and Rockland Trust for sponsoring this year’s event. 

Last modified: August 30, 2016