Come and Have a Whale of a Time at the American Museum! Prize-Winning Author Philip Hoare to Give Talk

July 15, 2013 - Zoe Dennington

The Susan of Nantucket scrimshaw* is one of the Museum’s most fascinating objects.  The delicately carved sperm whale tooth has an image of the 19th century whaling ship, beneath which is the grisly inscription:

Death to the living, long live the killers

Success to sailor’s wives and greasy luck to whalers.

The object serves as a stark reminder of both the brutality of the whaling industry and its importance to the American economy during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Museum is delighted that author, presenter and champion-of-the-whale Philip Hoare will be discussing America’s troubled relationship with these giants of the deep in his talk Leviathan: America and the Whale on 18 July at the Museum.  Philip’s book Leviathan or, The Whale, won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction and he recently wrote and presented the BBC Arena film The Hunt for Moby Dick.  He is also the curator, with Angela Cockayne of Bath Spa University, of the on-line rendition of Melville’s classic, at  His new book, The Sea Inside, explores his own encounters with whales in the context of this rich history.

This talk has been organised in partnership with Chippenham-based charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).  Philip will be exploring the history of American whaling, the impact it has had on American art and culture (Moby Dick etc.) and the future of whales and dolphins in American waters.  He will be signing copies of his new book after the talk.

Thursday 18 July, 6 pm

Admission: £7 (£5 for Museum members)

To book, please call 01225 820866 or e-mail:

Organised in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)

Notes to Editors

*Scrimshaw is the art of incising decorative motifs onto ivory and was a popular pastime for whalers during long voyages.

The American Museum in Britain aims to inform its visitors about the cultural history of the United States to strengthen relations between the two countries.  It contains over 15,000 items devoted to the decorative arts of America: fancy gowns and Shaker furniture, an extensive collection of native folk art, one of the largest and finest quilt collections in the entire world, and important holdings of early maps charting the discovery and exploration of the Americas.

For further information and images, please contact:

Sue Bond Public Relations

Tel. +44 (0)1359 271085, Fax. +44 (0)1359 271934

E-mail, Website                                                         8/7/2013