A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Murray Buckman
Date: 2020 Sep 19, 10:50 -0700
Perhaps a little off topic, but in addition to my interest in celestial navigation I enjoy a little literature from time to time. By choice that often has a nautical theme, so unsurprisingly I am a fan of Joseph Conrad.
In “Heart of Darkness” Conrad’s character Marlow discovers a book in a hut in the jungle:
“It was an extraordinary find. Its title was, An Inquiry into some Points of Seamanship, by a man Towser, Towson – some such name – Master in his Majesty’s Navy”.
Of course the book and its author were both fictional creations of Conrad. But as a mariner he would have been familiar with J T Towson’s work. I do not think it a coincidence that he chose to use this name in Heart of Darkness for his fictional author of a fictional book about seamanship.
I never made the connection before this thread.
I speculate – but have evidence – that perhaps they met. Conrad joined his first British ship in 1876, just 5 years before JTT’s death. At the time JTT was in Liverpool and was an examiner of masters and mates and a compass expert. Conrad was just starting to learn English (he was Polish – despite his contribution to English literature). Conceivably their paths crossed. Conrad was well known for using people he had encountered as characters in his writing. One wonders…
Anyway – that is the trivia for today.