The Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation
Date of publication: July 2010
In 1845 Captain Sir John Franklin led a large, well equipped expedition to complete the conquest of the Canadian Arctic, to find the fabled North West Passage connecting the North Atlantic to the North Pacific. Yet Franklin, his ships and men were fated never to return. The cause of their loss remains a mystery.
Shocked by the disappearance of all 129 officers and men, and sickened by reports of cannibalism, the Victorians re-created Franklin as the brave Christian hero who laid down his life, and those of his men. Later generations have been more sceptical about Franklin and his supposed selfless devotion to duty. But does either view really explain why this outstanding scientific navigator found his ships trapped in pack ice seventy miles from magnetic north? Andrew Lambert re-examines the life and the evidence with his customary brilliance and authority.
In this riveting story of the Arctic, he discovers a new Franklin: a character far more complex, and more truly heroic, than previous histories have allowed.