Book by first woman to row across the Atlantic chosen for common reader

Tori McClure on water
Tori McClure rowing


Adventurer Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, will speak this fall on campus.


            McClure's visit and talk at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Bromeley Family Theater supplements students' reading the story of her journey, “A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean.” Students in freshman seminar, environmental studies, writing and composition classes will all read at least a part of the book.


            “A Pearl in the Storm” will also be this year's selection for One Book Bradford, a community common reader project.


            “The book is more than the story of a great feat,” said Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing and director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford. “The details of rowing across the ocean are fascinating, but the journey of self-discovery is what really drew me and led me to use the book in a class here at Pitt-Bradford, where I got an enthusiastic response from my students.”


            As if being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic were not enough, McClure was one of two women and six Americans who cross-country skied their way to the geographic South Pole - a journey of 750 miles. She has climbed mountains on several continents, including Antarctica. She is the subject of the French documentary “Beyond Limits - Tori Murden.”


            More than a dozen television shows and 30 major magazines have featured McClure's story. Fellow sea adventurer Thor Heyerdahl presented her with the Peter Bird Trophy for Tenacity and Perseverance in 2000, the first time a woman was the honor's recipient.


            McClure holds a bachelor's degree from Smith College, a Master of Divinity from Harvard University, a law degree from the University of Louisville and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Spalding University, where she is now president.


            It was in her connection to Spalding that McCabe first met McClure.  McCabe teaches in the short-term residency MFA program at Spalding.


            “Last fall at Spalding, Tori invited the creative nonfiction program to visit her boat, the American Pearl,” McCabe said. “She urged us to climb around on it. Sitting in the seat where she'd rowed for hours and hours and crawling into the coffin-sized cabin really hit home what it must have been like to have been in this boat barely bigger than a pickup truck in the midst of a vast ocean.”


            One Book Bradford will hold a community book review at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 9 led by Rick Lutz, a retired Bradford Area School District English teacher who has paddled for long distances alone in his kayak.


            Copies of “A Pearl in the Storm” will be available at The Panther Shop on campus in mid-July.


            For disability needs, contact Carma Horner, disability resources and services coordinator, at 814-362-7609 or


            McClure's visit is co-sponsored by the Pitt-Bradford Spectrum Series and Freshman Seminar.