There’s nothing like a book deadline to accelerate time. It hardly seems a moment since I set to work in the British Library in the summer of 2015; or I was paddling about Endeavour Cove in Queen Charlotte’s Sound a few months later; or standing on the foreshore of the Tūranganui River on New Zealand’s North Island; or sitting down to write in January 2017. And yet sure enough here we are. It’s August 2018 and Endeavour will be published in a fortnight.
The finished copies of the UK hardback arrived a few weeks ago and they look magnificent. Apart from the 140,000 words, the cover art and the two plate sections, my current favourite thing about them are the endpapers. You can have a glimpse of them in the photographs above, showing the layout of the newly converted exploration ship as she was leaving Britain exactly 250 years ago.
I’ve a few other snippets of news too. In June I was lucky and honoured to win the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s Mary Soames Award after my travels to Australia and New Zealand. My Fellowship was back in 2016 and it enormously enriched the whole process of researching and writing. I’d encourage anyone with the urge to travel and learn to have a look into applying for a 2019 Fellowship, the window’s open for a few more weeks yet.
For my first, proper Endeavour event I travelled to Whitby in July to give the Annual Captain Cook Lecture. The museum stands in a park on a hill overlooking the harbour and town and, for my purposes, there could hardly have been a more suitable place. Just 200 yards or so away, now buried beneath the railway station, is the site where the Earl of Pembroke was built in 1764. There in the musuem, among the hands of glory, the fossils, the jet, the ship’s models and weather prognosticators, I tried out some new material for the first time. Thanks to all of you who came along to hear about oak timber, Lionel Charlton, Thomas Fishburn, bad water spirits and sand crabs.
For anyone who likes audiobooks, I’m really pleased to let you know that Endeavour is being recorded right now for release in a few weeks. Even better than that, it’s being read by one of my very favourite narrators, Ric Jerrom, who’s entertained me for hours upon hours with his superb readings of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin novels. More info here.
Last of all are some kind words from Michael Palin, which came through in the last few weeks. I was bred like so many others on Python and after that his swashbuckling travels Around the World in Eighty Days or from Pole to Pole, so you might imagine how excited I was to get them. Things like this are so long hoped for and so rarely happen that I am unashamedly going to repeat them here:
[Endeavour is] Fascinating and richly detailed… Peter Moore has brought us an acute insight into the ship that carried some of the most successful explorers across the world. A fine book that’s definitely worth exploring” (Michael Palin)
It’s very much worth noting that Michael Palin has his own ship book on the stocks, Erebus, almost ready to be launched. And thinking of all his many travels has put in mind of my own over the last three years. Below is a breezy gallery of them, as Tony Horwitz once put it, “Boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before”.