Cameron has whale of a time in ‘big read’

A reading by the Prime Minister that aims to introduce the 161-year-old novel Moby-Dick to a new generation goes live to the world today.

David Cameron has voiced chapter 30 of the classic American novel as part of The Moby-Dick Big Read.

He is among a number of stars, including Stephen Fry, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir David Attenborough, who have jumped on board the ambitious project to broadcast all 135 chapters of Herman Melville’s novel over 135 days.

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Since Swinton took on the novel’s opening, Call me Ishmael, on September 16, the website has been visited by almost half a million people, placing it in the iTunes podcast charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Cameron’s chapter, titled The Pipe, goes live on the project’s website today.

When his involvement in the project was confirmed Mr Cameron said: “This is a really exciting project aimed at introducing this literary masterpiece to new audiences.

“I am particularly pleased to be able to contribute a chapter alongside so many people from the local community and wish all involved the very best in their efforts to make classic literature accessible to all.”

The Moby-Dick Big Read has been two years in the making and originated from the mutual obsession with the book by award-winning author Philip Hoare and artist Angela Cockayne.

The daily readings, broadcast online, are accompanied by images inspired by the book from contemporary artists including Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.

Dr Hoare hopes the project will convince intimidated readers to give Moby-Dick a try.

He said: “If the Prime Minister’s reading prompts people to turn to such wonderful works of literature, that’s a great result for all concerned.

“This is a way of introducing his book to a new audience and is something people can pick up as and when they choose – it is completely suited to the digital age.”

The readings can be downloaded from