19th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon

19th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon

Friday, January 2 – Sunday, January 4, 2015

Schedule  |  Dinner  |  Donate  |   Reader Signup   |   Mini-Marathon   |   Livestream


Reader Signup

Reader Online Signup Form
Interested in becoming a reader? Signup began at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, November 11. Please note that Reading Slots are filling up fast. Individuals have three options for requesting a 10 minute reading slot. You can email mdmarathon@whalingmuseum.org, call 508-717-6851 or use the new online Reader Signup Form at the top of this page.

“Names down on the papers? Well, well, what’s signed is signed; and what’s to be, will be;…Any how, it’s all fixed and arranged a’ready;”

“Shipmates, have ye shipped in that ship?” is the seemingly innocent, yet portentous, question offered by Elijah at the beginning of Chapter 19, The Prophet, in Moby-Dick.  Chapter 19 of the Moby-Dick Marathon will begin on a much more positive note when Whaling Museum President, James Russell, calls for eight bells at exactly 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 3, 2015. As many of you will recall, it was January 3, 1841, when a 21 year old Herman Melville (who was born in 19th year of the 19th century) sailed on the Acushnet, out of New Bedford Harbor. That key date in literary history provides the basis for when we hold our annual 25 hour, non-stop reading of what the Oxford Companion to English Literature has called "the closest approach the United States has had to a national prose epic".

However, the Moby-Dick Marathon is more than just a book reading. A variety of related activities are scheduled throughout the weekend. We begin on at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, January 2, with a ticketed buffet dinner. Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the Whaling Museum, by calling 508-997-0046 ext100 or at www.whalingmuseum.org.  Following the dinner, Melville enthusiasts are encouraged to join us in the Museum Theater for a free presentation by author Philip Hoare. His presentation will focus on his BBC film, "The Hunt for Moby-Dick."

Saturday, January 3, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. brings the return of Stump the Scholars, a quiz game designed to test the breadth of knowledge of members of the Melville Society Cultural Project. Visitors are invited to write down their most challenging Herman Melville related questions. These questions will be read by the Whaling Museum’s Senior Maritime Historian Michael Dyer to the two three-person teams of Melville Scholars. Any question that renders our experts answerless will earn its author an I Stumped the Scholars pin.

Our Melville Society Cultural Project colleagues will then take their places at the podium in the Bourne Building, by the stern of the Lagoda, the world’s largest ship model, at 11:30 a.m.  They will read the 85 “Extracts” found at the beginning of Moby-Dick, between “Etymology” and Chapter 1. These quotes, poetic excerpts and lyrics greet our audience members and readers as they prepare themselves for the start of the Marathon proper. At noon, our story begins with the most famous opening line in literature, “Call me Ishmael.”

In keeping with tradition, chapters 1- 6 will be read in the Bourne Building. We then walk over to the Seamen’s Bethel for the reading of chapters 7 - 9, including the rousing sermon of Father Mapple to be read by Reverend David Lima, Executive Director of the Inter-church Council of Greater New Bedford. We also try to duplicate the success of the group singing of ‘The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale’ in chapter 9. Ably led by members of the New Bedford Choral Society and organist Dwight Thomas, this full audience version of the hymn fills the chapel as one voice, greatly enhancing the experience for everyone. Also joining together to bring this story to life is Culture*Park, of New Bedford, a local theater troupe who will perform Chapter 40, “Forecastle – Midnight” in the Museum Theater.

Attendees can join a “Chat with a Melville Scholar” session on either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning and can visit this year’s Marathon-related art installation “The Art of Seeing Whales” in the Center Street Gallery.

The entire reading will be broadcasted via livestream on the Whaling Museum website, allowing Moby-Dick enthusiasts around the globe to follow along. The webcast will also be shown in the Museum Theater. Periodic updates via Twitter, using #mdm19, are sent out by Whaling Museum staff, and by attendees with their own Twitter accounts.

Video from 2014



The Moby-Dick Marathon is sponsored by:


Logo of The Pour Farm Tavern


Become a Sponsor
There is still time to become a sponsor of the 19th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon. Promote your company to Melville lovers across the globe by sponsoring this world-class event! Contact Alison Smart at asmart@whalingmuseum.org or 508-717-6815.

Last Modified: December 19, 2014