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Academic & Professional Books  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

Audubon at Sea The Coastal and Transatlantic Adventures of John James Audubon

By: Richard J King(Editor), Christoph Irmscher(Editor), Subhankar Banerjee(Foreword By)
334 pages, 20 plates with colour illustrations; 38 b/w illustrations
Audubon at Sea
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  • Audubon at Sea ISBN: 9780226756677 Hardback Aug 2022 In stock
    £17.50 £23.99
Price: £17.50
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

This one-of-a-kind, lavishly illustrated anthology celebrates Audubon's connection to the sea through both his words and art.

The American naturalist John James Audubon (1785–1851) is widely remembered for his iconic paintings of American birdlife. But as this anthology makes clear, Audubon was also a brilliant writer – and his keen gaze took in far more than creatures of the sky. Culled from his published and unpublished writings, Audubon at Sea explores Audubon's diverse observations of the ocean, the coast, and their human and animal inhabitants. With Audubon expert Christoph Irmscher and scholar of the sea Richard J. King as our guides, we set sail from the humid expanses of the American South to the shores of England and the chilly landscapes of the Canadian North. We learn not only about the diversity of sea life Audubon documented – birds, sharks, fish, and whales – but also about life aboard ship, travel in early America, Audubon's work habits, and the origins of beloved paintings. And as we face an unfathomable loss of seabirds today, Audubon's warnings about the fragility of birdlife in his time are prescient and newly relevant.

Charting the course of Audubon's life and work, from his birth in Haiti to his death in Manhattan, Irmscher and King's wide-ranging introduction and carefully drawn commentary confront the challenges Audubon's legacy poses for us today, including his participation in American slavery and the thousands of birds he killed for his art. Beautifully illustrated, with a foreword by distinguished photographer and conservationist Subhankar Banerjee, and rounded out by hundreds of historical and ornithological notes, Audubon at Sea is the most comprehensively annotated collection of Audubon's work ever published.


Foreword by Subhankar Banerjee
Sources for the Texts

I. Journal of a Sea Voyage from New Orleans to Liverpool aboard the Delos (1826)

II. Ornithological Biography (1831–1839)
Southern Waters
  A Long Calm at Sea
  The Florida Keys
  The Florida Keys (Part 2)
  The Brown Pelican and The Mangrove
  The Turtlers
  Black Skimmer or Razor-billed Shearwater
  Death of a Pirate
  The Frigate Pelican
  The Sooty Tern
  The Wreckers of Florida
  American Flamingo
  Wilson’s Plover
  St John’s River in Florida
Mid-Atlantic Waters
  The American Oyster-Catcher
  The Fish Hawk or Osprey and The Weak Fish
  Little Guillemot
  The Long-billed Curlew
Western Waters
  Black-footed Albatross
  Gigantic Fulmar
New England and Atlantic Canada
  The Bay of Fundy
  Common Gannet
  The Eggers of Labrador
  The Foolish Guillemot
  The Great Black-backed Gull
  The Wandering Shearwater
  The Razor-billed Auk
  The Common Cormorant
  The Puffin
  Great Auk
  Wilson’s Petrel

III. Journal of a Collecting Voyage from Eastport to Labrador aboard the Ripley (1833)

Customer Reviews


Christoph Irmscher directs the Wells Scholars Program at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is also a distinguished professor of English. Among his many books are The Poetics of Natural History and Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science.

Richard J. King is visiting associate professor of maritime literature and history at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is the author, most recently, of Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick.

By: Richard J King(Editor), Christoph Irmscher(Editor), Subhankar Banerjee(Foreword By)
334 pages, 20 plates with colour illustrations; 38 b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"[...] This book is a compilation of ocean-related writings by Audubon. Selections from his Ornithological Biography are the centerpiece, accompanied by excerpts from two of his journals. The editors add extensive introductions and annotations, making this worthwhile for interested readers, even if Audubon’s writings themselves may be available elsewhere."
– Grant McCreary (28/08/2022), read the full review at The Birder's Library

"These excellent selections are a wonderful reminder of why Audubon's writing deserves to be more widely read. Audubon at Sea is a delightful, captivating book, one that ranges to different regions and seasons, and features not only birds but fish, marine mammals, and many passages of interest concerning fishing, hunting, and collecting practices. Irmscher and King's expertise is impressive, and their introductions are helpful, informative, and beautifully written. The notes section is also truly remarkable: extremely well-informed, instructive, and detailed. This is a superb read."
– Michael P. Branch, University of Nevada, Reno, author of On the Trail of the Jackalope

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