American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

LAING, ALEXANDER [KINNAN] (1903-1976). Alexander Laing was the author of over twenty books of nautical fiction and history and a longtime librarian at Dartmouth College. Laing grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, New York, entered Dartmouth in 1921, and left in 1925 before completing his degree. In the fall of 1926 he found a position as a seaman aboard S.S. Leviathan; he spent several years working at sea and on the shore before returning to Dartmouth. After joining the faculty there in 1930, Laing earned his B.A. in 1933, as a member of the class of 1925. He was a member of the Dartmouth Sailing Club and served as its commodore in 1956.

Laing’s nautical fiction includes The Sea Witch (1933), a historical novel set among the clipper ships of 1840s New York, and Jonathan Eagle (1955), about a young New England sailor during the early republic. He also wrote several histories, of which the best known include Clipper Ship Men (1944), American Sail: A Pictorial History (1961), and Seafaring America (1974).

Peter H. McCracken