Public Lecture October 2013
Once again this year the Malta Map Society organised a lecture for its members which was also open to the general public. The talk entitled Here be Monsters: how the Sea Chart and Navigational Maps shaped our World was delivered by Lietenant Commander John Blake FRIN RN who is an author and speaker on maritime history. He had made contact with Bernadine Scicluna, one of our members, as he wanted to see the Ganado Malta Map Collection at the National Museum of Fine Arts and he told her that he would be delighted to give a talk to the Malta Map Society members, when Bernadine mentioned to him that she is a member of the MMS. He said that his usual honorarium is around £250, but he kindly waived his fee given that the Society has a limited number of members.
His talk, which was based on his book The Sea Chart, explored the origins of nautical charts, starting with the earliest recorded portolan known as the Carta Pisane held at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and dating to 1275. He looked at how sea charts were instrumental in exploring the world with examples from across continents and across the centuries, garnered from the archives of many well-known maritime museums such as the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, the Admiralty Library, the British Museum, US Library of Congress, the UK Hydrographic Office etc. He has spoken at many venues including the NationalMaritimeMuseum at Greenwich, London, Royal Thames Yacht Club, and the UK Hydrographic Office.
The lecture was held on Wednesday 2nd October in the Music Room at St James Cavalier at 6.30p.m. The lecture was very interesting and enlightening and a packed audience attended the lecture.
John Blake was born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales and went to BrightonCollege. He served in the Royal Navy and in the Reserve for nearly 16 years as an executive and navigating officer, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During his naval time he served extensively in sea-going ships and qualified as a navy underwater diver and a naval air defense specialist. In 1991 John Blake and his wife, Francine, started an Intellectual Property Licensing Agency, Classics Licensing Company, and in 1996 helped initiate and run the licensing of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office archives, producers of the Admiralty sea charts.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and writes regularly on maritime history for yachting and maritime magazines. He is the author of several books including The Sea Chart,Charts of War, and Sea Charts of the British Isles and is a member of the Society of Authors.