Publishing the history & culture

of Southeastern New England • Since 1981

Books purchased directly from Spinner include an interior plate signed by Marsha Hall Brown, Tom Hall, and Dawn Secord.


ISBN 978-0932027-337

104 pages • 8” x 10.5”
80+ photos & Illustrations

Under Sun, Stars and Sails

A Whaling Family’s Life at Sea

by Marsha Hall Brown

Foreword by James Russell

Contributing Editor Tom Hall

with Illustrations by Dawn Secord

Under Sun, Stars and Sails is the story of a 19th century family’s real-life adventures at sea during two whaling voyages. This intimate account tells a unique story of Nantucket whaling master, Captain Joseph Marshall and his wife, Malvina Pinkham Marshall who became partners in the whaling industry while at the same time devoted themselves to each other and created a distinctive family life with their young daughter, Helen as they sailed the world’s wide oceans in search of whales.

Joseph had been at sea since he was seventeen, Malvina was the well-educated daughter of a noted whaling master, and Helen, a precocious child, was destined to become a world traveler. While all three are familiar figures in the literature of Nantucket and New England whaling, nowhere do they appear together as a family sharing long sea voyages. Nor has anyone previously told the detailed story of their trips across the Atlantic and their adventures in the vast reaches of the Pacific. But now Under Sun, Stars and Sails offers a narrative richly laden with information gleaned from archived letters, unpublished memoirs, journals from private collections, and ship’s records—a story that not only gives an authentic account of the Marshall family’s life at sea, but also contextualizes their triumphs and challenges in the unique era of American history between 1851 and 1861.

The importance of the Nantucket and New Bedford whaling industry, the social and demographic impact of the California Gold Rush, the rise of the anti-slavery movement, the outbreak of the Civil War, and the discovery of petroleum all make it clear that America was undergoing evolutionary change. Many books with similar topics focus on the drama, danger, and documented details of whaling—this account offers personal and familial insight into life aboard a whale ship through the eyes and experiences of the ship’s captain, his wife and young daughter as they sail around the world.

About The Author

Author Marsha Hall Brown is a descendant of Nantucket whaling masters and the island’s founding families. For many years she has been a donor and volunteer for acquisitions at New England libraries and museums—donating artifacts for the 2017 Nantucket Historical Association’s exhibits Dear Absent Ones: The Seafaring Pinkhams and Out of the Box. She is a retired professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies with degrees from California State Universities Hayward and Fullerton. As a writer, she is the recipient of honors from the American Library Association and Maxwell Gold Medals from the Dog Writers Association of America. A longtime summer resident of Nantucket, she lives with her husband in Murrieta, California where she also writes on topics related to women’s studies and pure-bred dogs.

Contributing Editor Tom Hall is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a former U.S. Naval officer. After retiring from a teaching career, Tom has edited many texts for the Westar Institute’s religious scholars. He lives in Foster, Rhode Island and claims to also have “whale oil in his veins.” Arguably, Tom is the only person today who remembers meeting Helen Marshall.

Illustrator Dawn Secord is a nationally known award-winning artist and illustrator. After a career in business and finance in Los Angeles, she devotes her time to her studio and to breeding and exhibiting Irish Setter show dogs. She is a resident of Dallas, Texas.