> Skip to content
  • Published: 25 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9781926428161
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 496
  • RRP: $35.00

The Penguin Book of the Ocean

A hymn to the mystery, beauty and majesty of the ocean, and to the poets and explorers it has inspired - the world's finest writing about the world's finest place.

Ever since the first travellers reached the coast of Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, the ocean has been one of the wellsprings of the human imagination. Its restless immensity has given us new horizons to cross, new possibilities to explore, and inspired wonder, heartache and heroism.

In The Penguin Book of the Ocean bestselling author James Bradley presents a dazzling selection of writing exploring this grandest of obsessions, combining fact and fiction, classical and contemporary, to create a collection like no other.

From Rachel Carson's luminous account of our planet's birth to the story of the wreck that inspired Moby-Dick, from Ernest Shackleton's harrowing account of his escape from Antarctica by open boat to Tim Winton's award-winning dissection of the dark side of surfing, The Penguin Book of the Ocean is a hymn to the mystery, beauty and majesty of the ocean, and to the poets and explorers it has inspired.

  • Published: 25 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9781926428161
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 496
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

James Bradley

James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include the novels Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist, Clade and Ghost Species, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His essays and articles have appeared in The Monthly, The Guardian, Sydney Review of Books, Griffith Review, Meanjin, the Weekend Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year, and he has been shortlisted twice for the Bragg Prize for Science Writing and nominated for a Walkley Award. He lives in Sydney.

Also by James Bradley

See all

Praise for The Penguin Book of the Ocean

A collection that is broad-ranging and studded with fresh talent ... Bradley has collected admirably: allusions and echoes tie pieces to each other, building a layered and complex whole that is as varied as its subject. Like energy rolling through a wave, the shifts of pace and mood keep the reader constantly engaged.

Jennifer Moran, Australian Literary Review

Bradley's ocean is an imaginative prospect ... in it there is the tracery of a haunting cartography of the wrecks, storms and becalmed moments of human imagination.

Felicity Plunkett, The Australian

The book makes you want to read more about the ocean ... In Australia, I suspect most of us have a pretty positive image of the ocean as a benign scene of play, travel and leisure. A quiet read of this book will provide an alternative depiction of power, menace, wonder and timelessness.

Nathan Rees, Sydney Morning Herald

Pardon an excruciating pun, but James Bradley's collection of writing about the ocean goes to some deep places ... So many of these pieces achieve what sacred writing sets out to achieve: wonder, awe, perspective, humour, fear, hope, wisdom, truth in the face of human self-importance.

Michael McGirr, The Age

A magnificent collection of fiction and non-fiction ... It's a very impressive anthology.

Lucy Clark, Sunday Telegraph

This is a book that brings us the sights, smells, sounds, taste and feel of the sea, beautifully evoked by some of the world's most celebrated writers ... The Penguin Book of the Ocean is an anthology that will delight anyone who has ever felt the urge to go down to 'the lonely sea and the sky'.

Jennie Dell, Northern Star

Bradley casts his net widely ... A fine, discerning read.

Lucy Sussex, Sunday Age

I can sense the ocean's powerful undertow drawing me to James Bradley's absorbing anthology ... A good collection of ocean-inspired writing imparts a sense of holding all human possibility and passion in your hands ... All this makes The Penguin Book of the Ocean one of the most satisfying books I have reviewed.

Stephen Wilks, Sunday Canberra Times

This memorable collection of writing – fact and fiction, ancient and modern – will enthral you with the sea's challenges and charm, dangers and delights.

Woman's Day

This anthology presents the ocean through its myriad interpretations throughout history, beautifully charting how it has shaped both our physical environment and sense of place in the world.

Johanna Leggatt, Sun Herald

James Bradley's big salty Penguin is an exceptional gathering, by any criterion ... So much of this book – whether poetry, fiction, or non-fictional prose – evokes strong visual images, often drawn from the experiences of dream and nightmare ... Here is a book to tease us out of, and into, thought.

Gregory Kratzmann, Australian Book Review

A wonderful watery omnibus.

Weekend West