Whale Skeletons at Hull Maritime Museum

These images were taken at the Hull Maritime Museum. Most of them are apparently the skeleton of a North Atlantic Right Whale, but there are two exceptions: an Orca or Killer Whale, suspended in chains, and the lower jawbone of a Sperm Whale washed up on the Holderness coast and later displayed at Burton Constable. This whale is mentioned by Melville in Moby Dick (1851):

“…at a place in Yorkshire, England, Burton Constable by name, a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton of a Sperm Whale…Sir Clifford’s whale has been articulated throughout; so that like a great chest of drawers, you can open and shut him, in all his long cavities – spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan – and swing all day upon his lower jaw. Locks are to be put upon some of his trap doors and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a bunch of keys at his side. Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for the unrivalled view from his forehead.”

Where Melville Wrote Moby Dick

The Kenyon Review has a nice piece by Cody Walker on Arrowhead, the house where Herman Melville wrote parts of Moby Dick, among other things. Writers’ houses don’t often tell you much in themselves of course, but they certainly make a good place to start thinking about the writing:

I visited Arrowhead three times this summer. The view from the piazza is marvelous: a field of tall grass and wildflowers, a stand of maples and birches, and Mt. Greylock, surfacing in the distance. In an 1851 letter to Hawthorne, Melville wrote, “I have been ploughing & sowing & raising & printing & praying, and now begin to come out upon a less bristling time, and to enjoy the calm prospect of things from a fair piazza at the north of the old farmhouse here.” Melville lived at Arrowhead from 1850 to 1863; he wrote “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and the other Piazza Tales during his stay, along with Pierre, The Confidence Man, and the final draft of Moby-Dick — which he dedicated to Hawthorne, “in token of my admiration for his genius.” Facing financial difficulties, he sold half of the property in 1856, and then the remainder in 1863, to his brother Allan and moved his family back to New York, where he took a job as a customs inspector. The property stayed in his extended family until 1927; the Berkshire County Historical Society bought it from private owners in 1975.

[Link via Powermobydick]