Endeavour: a new book

I have been quiet on here for some time but I have not been idle. I am just putting the finishing touches to a new book, Endeavour: the Ship and the Attitude that Changed the World. It is going to be published by Chatto in the UK on 23 August and in the US shortly after at a date soon TBC.

In Endeavour I have tried to do two things. Firstly, I wanted to trace the biography of HM Bark Endeavour, the Whitby collier that James Cook commanded on the first of his three South Sea voyages. Following the ship’s material reality, those who travelled on her, her changing purposes and various significances in the eyes of those she encountered was one challenge, but I also wanted to use Endeavour as an emblem of a specific moment in history: an energetic time, filled with schemes and projects – for good or ill.

All this has kept me very busy for the last few years. In 2016 I was awarded a travelling fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to follow Endeavour to Australia and New Zealand. Standing on the foreshore beside the Tūranganui River on New Zealand’s North Island brought home to me just how unimaginably far that tiny bark and her company of ninety or so sailors travelled. But, as it turned out, for Endeavour that was only the start of it.

For subscribers to the Literary Review, I’ve written briefly about the book in this month’s edition along with my thoughts on the excellent new British Library exhibition – James Cook: the Voyages.

For those more interested in clouds than ships, I’ve still occasionally been talking about the weather. Two fun things recently were a podcast with Walter Isaacson Cloudy with a Chance of Disruption and a recording of the BBC World Service programme, The Forum.

Above is a picture from the top of a mainmast in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, during my Endeavour research. If you are interested in getting yourself an early copy of the book it is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Waterstones or, all the better, you could ask your local bookshop.

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