I recently completed my MA at Birkbeck, after submitting my (delayed) dissertation on Halley’s maritime science. The dissertation looked at Halley’s work on oceanography and meteorology, navigation and cartography, and diving and salvage, as well as his legacy and reputation in maritime affairs. One of the things I concluded was that while Halley’s maritime activities were well known in the eighteenth century, they became lost from sight in the nineteenth, when the dispute between Newton and Halley (on the one side) and Flamsteed (on the other) dominated the history of science. There was renewed interest among academics during the twentieth century – in his cartography and geomagnetic theories in particular – but these studies were not aimed at the general reader, and so his voyages and important cartographic work remain largely unknown.
This seems regrettable, given that Halley’s voyages have a strong claim to being the first government-funded expeditions for purely scientific purposes, and that they predated the ever-popular Cook voyages by almost 70 years (and Cook’s first voyage was prompted by a paper of Halley’s!). So I’ve decided to continue my own attempts to raise awareness of Halley’s voyages with a repeat run of his logbooks on Twitter.
As on the first run, Halley will tweet his ship’s journals from his account @HalleysLog around 9.00pm London time (though he doesn’t make an entry every day). If you’re not on Twitter, you can still follow the logs via the Twitter widget on the Home page of this blog, and he’ll weigh from Deptford on 20 October (1698). During the first run (2012-2015), I published posts on the blog to elucidate events in the logbooks and these will remain visible throughout the repeat run, but I will set each entry as a featured post on the Home page as it arises in the narrative and Halley will tweet a link to it from his account. I don’t intend to make many changes to the posts, but I will probably revise one or two.
I’m due to start a PhD on Halley in January 2017 (on his social and cultural world), and I’m preparing a new blog to run in tandem with that – but I’ll say more about that project next year. In the meantime, thank you for your interest in Edmond Halley and for reading this blog!