41N 72W: A science writer’s site
One of the nicest things I learned from writing Longitude is that a book can actually improve by virtue of being read. Numerous attentive readers took the trouble to write to me to point out typos or other errors in the text, which the publisher then corrected in subsequent editions. (For example, the typesetter had inexplicably swapped the word “latitude” for “longitude”—and vice versa—on several pages.)
Many more people wrote to say they’d enjoyed reading the book, and quite a few asked questions that the story had raised in their minds. Almost all of the early correspondence about Longitude went back and forth by ordinary mail, and I wrote my part with a fountain pen. Now that Longitude is available as an e-book, this personal web site allows me to continue and widen the dialogue.
Recently I received a message from someone who had read the book, seen the movie based on it, and then traveled to Greenwich for a first-hand look at the original longitude clocks. “Never mind Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the palaces and gardens, the Tower of London, even Abbey Road,” he wrote. “The Royal Observatory was the highlight of our trip to England.”