When I was a primary school teacher here in Australia part of the curriculum to be taught was poetry. I tried to link the subjects I taught, and when teaching Australian history, the discovery of Australia and the role of Captain Cook I found a poem that linked to that very subject.
The reason I mention the poem is that the memory of the poem was rekindled when I was reading this book.
The book is one from the Little Black Book of Books and this is part of what was written about it:
“Written simply and directly Sobel’s book was an astonishing worldwide publishing phenomenon. As such it was widely imitated, inaugurating a new style of popular narrative history and biography which was generally focused upon science or a cultural artifact.”
The book tells the story of the work John Harrison undertook in the mid 18th Century to discover a way to accurately measure longitude at sea. The story is one of drive. He never gave up and his story is certainly an interesting one.
Even though the poem only mentions chronometers by Arnold and Kendal, both watches not being trustworthy, it was Cook who vouched for the reliability of Harrison’s chronometers when he took them on his voyages.
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I didn’t know about that poem, but I do remember reading the book, ‘Longitude’, and very much enjoying it. Quite a story, as you say. How are you getting on with your challenge to read 100 books this year? I’m going to have to put a bit of work in if I’m to achieve that goal as I’ve only got 17 under my belt so far.
I’ve just spotted your 2018 reading challenge page, and I misremembered your total. 104 is a big number to hit, but I’m sure you can do it. Perhaps the trick is to avoid too many thick books and go for the slimmer volumes.
I have read 22 so far so not too bad. I might make it but I tend to slacken off as the year progresses.
I have just read the book Longitude. I picked it up at a church car boot sale and began reading it a couple of nights ago. I found the topic fascinating. In an interesting coincidence Dava Sobel just happened to be on a replay of One plus One on the ABC the very next morning. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science and history. I have a new interest in the working of clocks, the history of navigation and respect for those whose persistence through adversity achieved great things. I also remembered the Kendall poem and it shed new light on the reference to the chronometers.
Thank you for your comment Annette. Longitude would not normally be a book I would select but I was so glad that I did.
My English primary school teacher taught me the poem Two Chronometers. To this day I still remember it, 60 years on. He was a great teacher and the fact I remember it is all credit to him.
This certainly pleases me to hear this. I was a teacher too and am always happy when I hear of students who remember their teacher fondly.