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More about Strandings

24 February 2022 - 24 February 2022

5:00PM - 7:00PM

Williams Library, St Chad's College

  • Free

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Join Peter Riley as he introduces his new book, Strandings, which describes a decades long quest within the mysterious world of whale scavengers.

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Dead Sperm Whale on beach at Weybourne, by Hugh Venables, via Reproduced under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

Book cover for Strandings Confessions of a Whale ScavengerA whale is never just a whale, and the dead are never just dead… When Peter Riley was thirteen, a woman with blue hair and a comet tattoo asked him to help load the jaw of a sperm whale into the back of a Volvo 245. The encounter set Riley on a decades-long quest to make sense of what had happened. Enter the secretive world of whale scavengers. When a whale washes up on one of Britain's coasts, a fugitive community descends to claim trophies from the carcass. Some are driven by magical beliefs. Some are motivated by profit: there is a black market for everything from ambergris to whaletooth sex toys. But for others, the need goes much deeper.

Join Riley on a tour of a stranded kingdom's weird outer reaches, where nothing is as it seems. Meet witches, pedlars, fetishists, conspiracy theorists and fallen aristocrats. And prepare for a final revelation, as the mystery of the comet woman tangles with the enigmatic symbol of Leviathan itself, beached on Britain's fatal shore. You’ll never get out of the water again.

Photo credit: Dead Sperm Whale on beach at Weybourne, by Hugh Venables, via Reproduced under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.