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The Sea Journal

Seafarers' Sketchbooks

Huw Lewis-Jones


A treasure trove of visual delights: a collection of first-hand journals and sketchbooks created on ocean voyages around the world and across the ages

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The sea has been an endless source of fascination, at once both alluring and mysterious, a place of wonder and terror. The Sea Journal contains first-hand records by a great range of travellers of their encounters with strange creatures and new lands, full of dangers and delights, pleasures and perils.

In this remarkable gathering of private journals, log books, letters and diaries, we follow the voyages of intrepid sailors, from the frozen polar wastes to South Seas paradise islands, as they set down their immediate impressions of all they saw. They capture their experiences while at sea, giving us a precious view of the oceans and the creatures that live in them as they were when they were scarcely known and right up to the present day. In a series of biographical portraits, we meet officers and ordinary sailors, cooks and whalers, surgeons and artists, explorers and adventurers. A handful of contemporary mariners provide their thoughts on how keeping a journal remains integral to their voyaging lives.

Often still bearing the traces of their nautical past, the intriguing and enchanting sketches and drawings in this book brilliantly capture the spirit of the oceans and the magic of the sea.

The seafarers include:

Jeanne Baret
William Bligh
Francis Chichester
Vasco da Gama
Francis Drake
Zheng He
Horatio Nelson
Antonio Pigafetta
Piri Reis
Georg Steller
Bartholomew Sharp
Susan Veeder

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'Readers of this beautifully-produced volume will be far from miserable, and may even be inspired to keep their own journals and images of life'
Nautilus Telegraph

'Thrilling ... succeeds in illustrating not only the diversity of maritime sketchbooks but also how vital they were for their creators'
Times Literary Supplement

'Lewis-Jones’s book has everything from illustrated accounts of whaling voyages and naval battles to depictions of Kamchatkan kayakers and fluorescent sea slugs'
The Scotsman

'A captivating collection of exquisite first-hand records providing fascinating insights into exploration and adventure at sea'

'Beautiful … readers could easily be left with the impression that all 18th-century seafarers were also talented artists'
CNN Travel

'Magnificent first-hand accounts of the thrills and spills of sea exploration'
The Lady

'The sort of book to curl up with … you will relish each turn of the page as you explore the nautical journeys … humorous, poignant and most definitely informative … this is a book to learn from and treasure'
Family Tree

'Endlessly diverting and beautifully produced'
Daily Telegraph

'A remarkable treasure chest'

'Gorgeously produced … a lovely present for anyone who’s fascinated by exploration'
Practical Boat Owner

'One of the most spectacular and fascinating books I have ever read. A real privilege! Superb'
Book Reviews Monthly


'Wide-ranging and beautifully illustrated'
Books of the Year, Spectator

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound (no jacket)

Size: 19.5 x 27.0 cm

Extent: 304 pp

Publication date: 16 May 2019

ISBN: 9780500021279

About the Author

Dr Huw Lewis-Jones is a historian of exploration with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He was formerly Curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, and the National Maritime Museum, London. His books include The Conquest of Everest (winner of the History Award at the Banff Mountain Festival), The Crossing of Antarctica and Across the Arctic Ocean. He is the author, with Kari Herbert, of the bestseller Explorers’ Sketchbooks.