Talking Southern Ocean history … in London and Dublin!

In early May I had the amazing opportunity to give some presentations in London and Dublin to coincide with the international release of Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean by the University of Chicago Press in April 2019.

My first port of call, after the long-haul flight from Canberra, was the Natural History Museum where I gave a talk to a gathering of staff from the NHM and the Science Museum. My thanks to Lisa Cardy for arranging the event, and to the staff who gave up their precious work time to hear my talk.

One of the three Emperor penguin eggs brought back by Apsley Cherry-Garrard during Scott’s last expedition. It was thought the embryos would reveal the evolutionary links between reptiles and birds.

I also met up with Andrea Hart and Paul Martyn Cooper, the curators of the wonderful exhibition ‘Images of nature: expeditions and endeavours’, and had a chance to both view the exhibition and to bring home a copy of their excellent book. On the cover is a watercolour of a king penguin (Apenodytes patagonicus) by none other than Johann Georg Forster, painted aboard HMS Resolution in 1775 during James Cook’s second voyage of exploration in the southern hemisphere.

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Former Royal Naval College, Greenwich
The Painted Ceiling, known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the UK’ in the dining room of the former Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich. It was designed so that the resident seamen could gaze upon the symbols of British imperial expansion and naval supremacy in the 18th century.

My next event was at the historic Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The University of Greenwich has its campus here, and Dr Vanessa Taylor generously organised a public presentation in association with the Samuel Raphael History Centre. We had an enthusiastic audience and, although it was a chilly London evening, we were warmed by some wine and nibbles after the event! Thanks Vanessa. It was a real pleasure meeting you and your colleagues!

In Dublin, my final destination, I checked into my 18th century accommodation at Trinity College Dublin and spent some time taking in the sights of the city. On day 2 I gave an evening talk to colleagues and postgraduate students at the Centre for Environmental History. Many thanks to Professor Poul Holm for hosting my visit, and to Richard Breen for making sure my stay went smoothly.

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The Trinity College Long Room – what a library!


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