Moby Dick marathon at Maritime Museum


Dr Chris Routledge: “Moby Dick is my desert island book”

MORE than 100 volunteers will read Herman Melville’s iconic novel, Moby Dick aloud over three days at Liverpool’s Maritime Museum, as part of a project initiated by the University of Liverpool’s department of Continuing Education.

Dr Chris Routledge, Programme Director for Continuing Education in English Language and Literature, came up with the idea and found a willing partner in National Museums Liverpool.

Marathon reading

He said: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. I know of a couple of people who have been involved in marathon readings of the Bible or Ulysses. When I spoke about doing something similar for Moby Dick, people were very enthusiastic.

“One of the things that is really nice about it is that each person will read for about ten to 12 minutes, so it’s not a massive commitment and you don’t have to learn it by heart.”

The marathon will be one of the centrepieces of the Maritime Museum’s wider festival of whales and the watery parts of the world.

”It’s just the most wonderful combination of an adventure story and all the techy, nerdy stuff about whaling. It’s also very funny”
A public lecture series runs every Wednesday at 1pm until May 22, while craft workshops, children’s authors and talks on scrimshaw and Melville’s Liverpool links, together with the marathon, create a busy programme over the weekend of May 4 to 6.

Dr Routledge said: “Moby Dick is really my desert island book. I would take it over all of Shakespeare. It’s just the most wonderful combination of an adventure story and all the techy, nerdy stuff about whaling. It’s also very funny. I think Melville’s got a reputation for being dull but it’s actually very witty and full of huge characters.”

Slots are still available for willing readers, although they are filling up fast. The novel will be read in nine hour stints over three days, and anyone can volunteer. It isn’t necessary to be familiar with the text.

Whale trail

Dr Routledge said: “It’s going to be up in Learning Space 1 in the Maritime Museum, and on board the Kathleen & May, the schooner in the half-tide dock outside. The good thing about that is we will get all the general museum traffic, so people can stop and listen. The museum has been fantastic and built a whole trail of whale-related items around the building.

“It’s an exciting project that aims to promote Continuing Education, from English and History, to Life Sciences, at the same time as involving the community.”

If you would like to volunteer to read, please visit

The event takes place at Liverpool’s Maritime Museum over the weekend of May 4 to 6. To find out more, visit For more information about Continuing Education, visit


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