RGSSA Library Catalogue

Friday 5 December 2014

Xmas Treats 2014


It's December already? Sorry I haven't been able to post more entries to the blog this year: I've been dogged by a horrid recurring flu virus all winter. But Sandra's great contribution means you have been able to read about some of the interesting books from the collection of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.

The RGSSA's recent exhibition "Out of Africa" was very successful, thanks to Heather B.'s hard work, showcasing works of travel and exploration and some fascinating old maps. However, checking the titles when it finished, I found that not all of the books had yet been catalogued online. So I hurriedly did them, and then Sandra, David B. and I had a go at some of the remaining books on Africa. (There's a lot of them! We've still got about 5,000 volumes of the non-Australian books to go.)

As always, the collection produced some unexpected delights, so here are a couple of little treats for Christmas!

S.W. Silver & Co. was the firm owned by Stephen William Silver (1819-1905), the London businessman whose York Gate Library, a unique collection of works of geography, travel and exploration, many relating to the British colonies with which the company traded, is now owned by the RGSSA. By 1846 Silver had taken over his father's export and banking business, S.W. Silver & Co. With agents and correspondents throughout the world the company did much official and private business with the British colonies, including Australia. It also published handbooks and other information about the colonies for intending immigrants. This little bibliographic curiosity is one of them:

The Cape, Free State, and diamond fields : the Union Steam Ship Company's voyage. London : S.W. Silver & Co. : Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1880. (S.W. Silver & Co.'s Colonial and Indian pocket book series and voyager's companion ; no. 1)

It's very cute, only 15 centimetres long, and it would fit in the pocket of your safari suit, quite easily! And as you see, it's got a flap which slips into a holder on the cover. Nifty!
    Technically speaking it's not a good book. It's almost impossible to find the real title, which is actually on the fifteenth page. There's a preliminary section, with its own title page (looking more like a series title page--however!). This is the "Historical diary...", with 12 pages of text.

Only after that do we get the real title page:

This is followed by an introduction and then a page stating "PART I. --THE BOOK." Turn over and here's the list of contents, which confusingly includes "Part II, Glossary of nautical and steam terms". Oops. Then we get the actual text, which has a caption title and a running title (at the top of each page), "The Cape pocket book". (How many titles is that?) That goes to page 78. Then a page states "PART II. GLOSSARY OF NAUTICAL TERMS." Turn over and the text starts with the caption title "Nautical and steam terms". Oh, just shoot me now! After that there are 23 largely blank, unnumbered pages which provide helpful headings and in some cases columns, allowing you to list your luggage and do your cash accounts and write down useful introductions and make a log of the voyage... As the text is all in very, very small print the intrepid 19th-century traveller would have had to have very good eyesight indeed!
    The tiny book comes with two pockets, one at the back, which in our copy is empty (maybe meant for your own notes?), and one in the front with a folded map in it:

"Season-chart of the world, with the differences east and west of Greenwich; & the approximate monthly rainfall of either hemisphere: showing also the chief ports and routes of commerce throughout the world. Constructed by W. Hughes, F.R.G.S. for S.W. Silver & Co.'s Colonial handbook series and revised to date. London, 1878."

Well, it's Christmas, grouse is appropriate (I think). A bird the bloodthirsty English start shooting on the Glorious 12th, isn't it? The RGSSA's collection is stuffed (culinary motif) with travel books by great white hunters. The author Parker Gillmore is a prize example.

Gillmore, Parker
The hunter's Arcadia. London : Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1886.

I've got a formula for cataloguing these books, so once I work out where the hunter travelled to (not easy: most of them don’t bother to say, and Africa's a large continent), I assign the appropriate subject headings, check for any interesting illustrations, hoping they're not all going to be of dead game, and that's it. I was about to dismiss Mr Parker's The Hunter's Arcadia as typical--well, I ask you! What a title!--when, desperately seeking enlightenment from the preface as to where he went, I happened across a mention of S.W. Silver & Co.!

"Messrs. Silver and Co., of Cornhill, can supply the wanderer with anything, and what is procured from this firm is sure to be excellent. Their portmanteaux, travelling bags, waterproof sheets and clothing cannot be too highly commended, while their gun-pads for reducing recoil are almost indispensable for firing such heavy charges as are now in vogue for killing large game. Fail not to have one of their revolvers. As far as natives are concerned they are not necessary, but there are some bastard descendants of Europeans knocking about, and this weapon is better than argument with such wild beasts. They (Messrs. Silver and Co.) can also supply the hunting-coat I always use, which will be found not only cool but capable of resisting thorns. Their explorer's room is always worthy of a visit, and the attentive and courteous employés of the firm thoroughly understand the use and appropriateness of each article. As your travelling is done by wagon you need not fear overloading yourself."

Jolly good show! Then I came across a charming illustration (no credit supplied for the illustrator, sadly). The accompanying text, which threw quite a new light on Mr Gillmore, tells us that he was out with a party of local people who were hunting birds and sighted some sand grouse, some of which they managed to catch by throwing their "kerries". Gillmore himself didn't take part and when offered some of the bag he refused, knowing that grouse need to be simmered for at least three hours to be palatable to a European. The hunters had been having him on: they just laughed. Clearly in the past he must have hunted grouse, but at this time he just observed them:

"To me, sand grouse occupy the same relative position towards birds that Kate Greenaway's or Caldecott's children do to the human family. They are, in very truth, regular little Dolly Vardens in perfection of outline, beauty and variety of plumage, and in grace and energy of movement, while their little feather-trowsered legs impart an air of modesty that is most piquante. Those folks that have crossed the Atlantic have doubtlessly heard "bees" spoken of by our cousins. Now there are several kinds of "bees" in America, such as quilting "bees," logging "bees", and husking "bees." The double-banded sand grouse has a "bee" of its own, which I will designate a courting "bee." About midday, in spring, these little pets will assemble, possibly to the number of a dozen, and dance the most extraordinary and intricate figures, in which all take a part. From the back of an ant-hill I have often watched them at this amusement. In it there is none of the poetry of the gliding waltz, but all the energy and go of the Scotch reel..."

Lovely, isn't it? It's typical of Gillmore's rather discursive style; it can be charming, but his refusal to pinpoint localities becomes very frustrating! It appears from the preface that this time he was in Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), having travelled there via South Africa. Unfortunately his books intersperse such descriptive passages with the typical hunter's litany of the game, big and small, he slaughtered, so don’t pick one up expecting it to be to modern tastes! --Well, yes, I would eat grouse, if offered, but I wouldn't march all over Africa killing antelopes and leopards and lions and whatever else was around: I can't really relate to a person who writes "I took my shot-gun and proceeded up the river in search of anything edible or curious." (p. [149])

I couldn't find a recipe for grouse or even pheasant in the RGSSA's antique Australian cookery book by Philip E. Muskett and Mrs Wicken (see the blog entry, "Happy Birthday Julia Child"), but just for a Christmas treat, here's Mrs Beeton's:

    1025. INGREDIENTS.--Grouse, butter, a thick slice of toasted bread.
    Mode.--Let the birds hang as long as possible; pluck and draw them; wipe, but do not wash them, inside and out, and truss them without the head, the same as for a roast fowl. Many persons still continue to truss them with the head under the wing, but the former is now considered the most approved method. Put them down to a sharp clear fire; keep them well basted the whole of the time they are cooking, and serve them on a buttered toast, soaked in the dripping-pan, with a little melted butter poured over them, or with bread-sauce and gravy
    Time,--1/2 hour; if liked very thoroughly done, 35 minutes.
    Average cost, 2s. to 2s. 6d. the brace; but seldom bought.
    Sufficient,--2 for a dish.
    Seasonable from the 12th of August to the beginning of December.

Framed detail from Mrs Beeton's illustration of roast grouse

Before I sign off for 2014, I must express my appreciation to all who have contributed to the cataloguing project this year: especially Sandra, our "distance cataloguer", who's doubled our output, David B., who's not only contributed on the technical side, but willingly helped with the shelf-check (stocktaking, to non-librarians), hauled books down from upstairs, filled in instruction sheets for Sandra, and done photocopying, and George, who's also helped with the shelf-check, hauled down more piles of books from upstairs and done photocopying. (Getting the books may not sound like much but when I tell you it entails perching on a ladder in the top gallery, 3 storeys above the floor--!! I can't thank them enough, I get dizzy if I just look down.) Thanks also to all the reference desk staff who answered my frantic appeal for help with the re-shelving, and to Liz, who's been doing yet more photocopying for the project. And special thanks to Heather C. for her great work indexing the exciting "Gill scrapbook" (more on this next year), and for finishing the transcription of the historic letters.

That's it for 2014, dear blog readers. Thanks so much for your continued support: the stats have gone from just under 3,500 in December 2012 to over 15,000!

Wishing you all merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, happy holidays,
and all the very best for a peaceful and safe New Year.


This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes 

Saturday 24 May 2014

Edward William Lane

Edward William Lane, An Unprejudiced Man

I'm expecting an exciting contribution to the blog from Sandra, our "distance" cataloguer, but meantime, here is a note for you on what's currently cataloguing at RGSSA:

Lane, Edward William, 1801-1876.
An account of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians: written in Egypt during the years 1833-1835.
The library holds 2 19th-century editions.
We come across all sorts of hidden gems as Sandra, David B. and I work our way (slowly and painfully!) through the uncatalogued book collection, and it seems a pity not to share some of them with you, So here goes.

"Interior of a Mosque"
Edward William Lane was one of Britain's greatest Arabic scholars of the 19th century. One of his accomplishments was a translation of the Thousand and One Nights (the "Arabian Nights.") If he was working today, we might consider him to be not just a linguist but a social anthropologist. He was also an artist, having worked as a young man under his older brother, Richard, a London lithographer.

His first trip to Egypt in 1825-1828 resulted in a written work and a portfolio of drawings about contemporary Egyptian society, which he failed to get published. However, he went back to Egypt in 1833-1835 in order to flesh out the work. His approach was to immerse himself in the local lifestyle, wearing the native costumes and speaking Arabic.

"Washing Before or After a Meal"
His illustrated account is "a perfect picture of what Lane saw in Egypt in 1833-5. Even twenty-five years later, the people and their habits had in many ways altered more than in several preceding centuries. We can never reconstruct Egypt as Lane saw it, except by reading Lane's description." (Biographical notice, 1890 ed.)
"A Tattooed Girl"
All aspects of the Egyptians' daily life, manners, habits, customs, and costume are described in meticulous detail. Here is his description of the ancient (and apparently already vanishing) custom of perfuming the departing guest:

In the houses of the rich, it used to be a common custom to sprinkle the guest, before he rose to take his leave, with rose-water or orange-flower-water; and to perfume him with the smoke of some odoriferous substance; but of late years this practice has become unfrequent. The scent-bottle, which is called "kumkum," is of plain or gilt silver, or fine brass, or china, or glass; and has a cover pierced with a small hole. The perfuming-vessel, or "mibkhar'ah," is generally of one or the other of the metals above mentioned: the receptacle for the burning charcoal is lined, or half filled, with gypsum-plaster; and its cover is pierced with apertures for the emission of the smoke.

The mibkhar'ah is used last: it is presented by a servant to the visitor or master, who wafts the smoke towards his face, beard, etc., with his right hand. Sometimes it is opened, to emit the smoke more freely. The substance most commonly used in the mibkhar'ah is aloes-wood, or benzoin, or cascarilla-bark. The wood is moistened before it is placed upon the burning coals. Ambergris is also used for the same purpose; but very rarely, and only in the houses of persons of great wealth, as it is extremely costly. As soon as the visitor has been perfumed, he takes his leave; but he should not depart without previously asking permission to do so, and then giving the selám, which is returned to him, and paying other set compliments, to which there are appropriate replies. If he be a person of much higher rank than the master of the house, the latter not only rises, but also accompanies him to the top of the stairs, or to the door of the room, and then commends him to the care of God.

An Ood? What is an Ood? Or is it an Oud?
You may know this, if you're into "world music" (foul expression) or happen to own a painting of an "Oud with Gourds." If you don't, William Lane can certainly enlighten you. It's one of the musical instruments of the Arab world that he describes in great detail and illustrates in the picture below. We'd spell it "oud" today. Look up Google Images if you want 5 million photographs of ouds in glorious or in some cases smudgy digital colour.

The "ood" is a lute, which is played with a plectrum. This has been for many centuries the instrument most commonly used by the best Arab musicians, and is celebrated by numerous poets. Its name (the original signification of which is "wood"), with the article el prefixed to it, is the source whence are derived the terms liuto in Italian, luth in French, lute in English, etc. The length of the ood, as represented in the middle of the accompanying engraving, measuring from the button, or angle of the neck, is twenty-five inches and a half. The body of it is composed of fine deal, with edges, etc., of ebony: the neck of ebony, faced with box and an ebony edge. On the face of the body of the instrument, in which are one large and two small shemsehs of ebony, is glued a piece of fishes' skin, under that part of the chords to which the plectrum is applied, to prevent the wood from being worn away by the plectrum.

The instrument has seven double strings; two to each note. They are of lamb's gut. The order of these double chords is singular: the double chord of the lowest note is that which corresponds to the chord of the highest note in our violins, etc.: next in the scale above this is the fifth (that is, counting the former as the first): then the seventh, second, fourth, sixth, and third. The plectrum is a slip of a vulture's feather.

"A damsel with a dulcimer, in a vision once I saw..."
I always imagined the dulcimer in the poem to be rather like an oud (well, okay, rather like a lute), but according to Lane it's very like a "kánoon" and in his picture that looks like a zither, to me:

So what does he say about it? I'll spare you the enormous detail, but yes, this sounds like a zither: "The 'kánoon' is a kind of dulcimer. ... The kánoon is sometimes made entirely of walnut-wood, with the exception of some ornamental parts. ... In the central part of the face of instrument is a circular piece of wood ... pierced with holes ... The instrument is played with two plectra; one plectrum attached to the fore-finger of each hand ... [and] placed on the knees of the performer." Yeah, okay: zither-like. The ancient zither that we had at home when I was little, passed on by some family friend who didn't want it, was nothing short of cacophonous when twanged by us ignoramuses, but I'm glad to know that Lane felt quite differently: "Under the hands of a skilful player, the kánoon pleases me more than any other Egyptian instrument without an accompaniment". Goodoh!

Many points that Lane describes would have been considered odd or even grotesque by his English contemporaries, but Lane, although sometimes pointing out these features as unusual, is completely unprejudiced, as his biographer recognised, writing that the book "bears the stamp of a character singularly open to the realisation of the genius of a different race from his own". (Biographical notice, 1890 ed.)

Here, in his observations on the wearing of nose rings, we see the typical Lane: not shutting his eyes to the fact that his European contemporaries may judge the phenomenon as grotesque, but nonetheless describing it in a merely factual way:

The "khizám," or nose-ring, commonly called "khuzám," is worn by a few of the women of the lower orders in Cairo, and by many of those in the country towns and villages both of Upper and Lower Egypt. It is most commonly made of brass; is from an inch to an inch and a half in diameter; and has usually three or more coloured glass beads, generally red and blue, attached to it. It is almost always passed through the right ala of the nose; and hangs partly before the mouth; so that the wearer is obliged to hold it up with one hand when she puts anything into her mouth. It is sometimes of gold. This ornament is as ancient as the time of the patriarch Abraham;[1] and is mentioned by Isaiah[2] and by Ezekiel.[3] To those who are unaccustomed to the sight of it, the nose-ring is certainly the reverse of an ornament.
1 See Genesis xxiv. 47, where in our common version, "ear-ring" is improperly put for "nose-ring."
2 Chap. iii. ver. 21.
3 Chap. xvi. ver. 12. Here, again, a mistake is made in our common version, but corrected in the margin.

Don't panic, the text is not spattered with footnotes! He includes them rarely, when he deems them necessary, but the work is itself a primary source. The illustrations, based on his own drawings, are also invaluable witnesses to the lifestyle of the people of Egypt (largely Muslim Arabs, but also Copts and Jews) in the first third of the 19th century.

Studies of ancient Egypt were already in favour and as the century progressed more and more European travellers visited Egypt's great tourist attractions, but Lane takes quite a different approach, seeing the people of modern Egypt in their own right, not merely as periphery to a tour of the ancient sites.

This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes 

Tuesday 1 April 2014

April: Notable Dates & Books - Drake, Hakluyt, Culloden


The month of April is famous in world history for the sinking of the Titanic, and even more famous in the Antipodes for Anzac Day, April 25. However, so much has been written about these two events that I shan't add my mite.

April also has other notable dates In history, and the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia holds some remarkable books which relate to them, so let's look at a couple of them instead.


On April 4, 1581 Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I for completing his circumnavigation of the world. (He had got back to England in September of the previous year. I always imagine him using part of his rather ill-gotten gains to buy something splendid to wear at Court!) 

The picture is from Wikipedia: Portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, 1581, reverse of "Drake Jewel", inscribed Aetatis suae 42, An(n)o D(omi)ni 1581 ("42 years of his age, 1581 AD")

There are many references to Drake in the RGSSA's accounts of early voyages. These are some of our rarer books:

Drake, Francis, Sir, -1637, and Fletcher, Francis, active 16th century
The world encompassed by Sir Francis Drake. Offered now at last to publique view, both for the honour of the actor, but especially for the stirring up of heroicke spirits, to benefit their countrey, and eternized their names by like noble attempts / Collected out of the notes of Master Francis Fletcher preacher in this imployment, and compared with divers other notes that went in the same voyage. Printed at London for Nicholas Bourne, 1652

This compilation recounting Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the world is the work of his nephew, also a Sir Francis Drake. The first edition was published in 1628.

The RGSSA is lucky enough to hold 2 editions of Richard Hakluyt's Principal navigations. This important work of 16th-century scholarship chronicles the great English journeys of discovery and in particular is a prime source of contemporary information about the 16th-century English voyages.

First Contents Page for Part 3
Hakluyt, Richard, 1552?-1616.
The principall navigations, voiages and discoveries of the English nation, made by sea or over land, : to the most remote and farthest  distant quarters of the earth at any time within the  compasse of these 1500 yeeres: divided into three  severall parts, according to the positions of the  regions whevunto they were directed ... Whereunto is added the last most renowmed English navigation, round about the whole globe of the earth / By Richard Hakluyt. Imprinted at London by George Bishop and Ralph Newberie, Deputies to Christopher Barker, 1589.

The picture below shows the end paper and flyleaf of this 1589 edition. This copy is not included in the catalogue of the York Gate Library, so it is one of the many volumes William Silver acquired after the catalogue was published in 1886. It bears 2 bookplates. One is the small rectangular bookplate of William Silver's York Gate Library. The other is the bookplate of Reginald Cholmondeley, Condover Hall. It is presumably his signature, opposite. This owner would have preceded Silver, though we do not know when.

Our other early edition of the Principal navigations was published a few years later:

Hakluyt, Richard, 1552?-1616.
The principal nauigations, voyages, traffiques and discoueries of the English nation : made by sea or ouerland, to the remote and  farthest distant quarters of the earth, at any time within the compasse of these 1600 yeres, diuided into three seuerall volumes, according to the positions of  the regions, whereunto they were directed / by Richard Hakluyt .... Imprinted at London by George Bishop, Ralph Newberie, and Robert Barker, anno 1599-1600.

Richard Hakluyt, whose name is commemorated in that of the Hakluyt Society, was an Elizabethan scholar and historian. His histories of worldwide navigation and exploration together with supporting documents were the most significant and influential compilations of the period.
Second contents page for Part 3
Hakluyt's great work covers Sir Francis Drake as well as a host of other explorers. They include, in Part 1: Laurence Aldersey, Robert Baker, John Eldred, John Evesham, George Fenner, Robert Gaynsh, Zacheus Hellier, William Huddie, Anthonie Ingram, John Newberie & Ralph Fitche, Thomas Steevens (Stephens), William Towerson, Edward Wilkinson, Thomas Windam; in Part 2: Thomas Alcocke, George Wrenne & Richard Cheiny, Thomas Banister & Geoffrey Ducket, Christopher Burrough, Steven Burrough, William Burrough, Richard Chanceler, Arthur Edwards, John Sparke, Laurence Chapman, Christopher Fawcet & Richard Pingle, Jerom Horsey, Anthony Jenkinson, Richard Johnson, Alexander Kytchin & Arthur Edwardes, Arthur Pet & Charles Jackman, Thomas Southam & John Sparke, Sir Hugh Willoughbie; in Part 3: Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow (Barlowe), Roger Bodenham, Thomas Candish (Cavendish), John Chilton, John Davis (Northwest Passage), ship "Dominus Vobiscum" & another, Sir Francis Drake, John Drake, Edward Fenton & Luke Ward, Sir Martin Frobisher, Sir Humfrie Gilbert, Sir Richard Greenvile (Grenville), Christopher Hare, Sir John Hawkins, William Hawkins, Master Hore (et. al.), David Ingram, William Michelson & William Mace, John Oxnam, Sir Thomas Pert & Sebastian Cabot (plus an earlier voyage by Cabot), RIchard Pope; Edward Stafford & John White; Robert Tomson; Virginia voyage (Roanoke Colony), leader unnamed, sent by Sir Walter Raleigh; Robert Withrington & Christopher Lister. (Original spelling of names retained, but i, u & v normalised to modern usage.)

Drake's fame continued unabated throughout the following centuries. The edition below is an 18th-century republication of an earlier title:

R. B., 1632?-1725?
The English hero, or, Sir Francis Drake reviv'd : being a full account of the dangerous voyages, admirable adventures, notable discoveries, and magnanimous atchievements of that valiant and renowned commander. I. His voyage in 1572, to Nombre de Dios in the West-Indies, where they saw a pile of bars of silver near 70 foot long, 10 foot broad, and 12 foot high, II. His incompassing the whole world in 1577, which he perform'd in two years and ten months, gaining a vast quantity of gold and silver, III. His voyage into America in 1585, and taking the towns of St. Jago, St. Domingo, Carthagena and St. Augustine, IV. His last voyage into those countries in 1595, with the manner of his death and burial. Recommended to the imitation of all heroick spirits. / Inlarged and reduced into chapters with contents by R.B. Thirteenth ed. [London] : Printed for C. Hitch and J. Hodges, 1739

This 13th edition of The English hero is also held by the U.S. Library of Congress, which holds earlier editions as well. Its records attribute the work to the "R.B." who lived around 1632 to 1725, and according to the Library of Congress was actually the London publisher, printer, and bookseller Nathaniel Crouch. He used his own name in the printing and bookselling trade and wrote books under the pseudonym R.B., or Richard Burton; these were sometimes attributed after his death to Robert Burton, also. The work was first published under this title in 1687 and "is based upon the Sir Francis Drake revived of 1653, with additional material." (H.P. Kraus. Sir Francis Drake; a pictorial biography, 1970, p. 210, no. 45, cited in Library of Congress LCCN 03013281)

Looking for more early works on Sir Francis Drake? See The Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/collrbc.rb000009 This collection of scanned early texts from the Library of Congress includes important primary and secondary materials accumulated about Drake’s voyages throughout the then Spanish territory of the Americas. Texts are variously in English, Latin, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish or French.

And on the same day, April 4:
Tragedy: on that day in 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated;
And triumph: 1983 saw the Space Shuttle Challenger make its maiden voyage into space on 4th April.

April 16: The Battle of Culloden

On April 16, 1746, the Battle of Culloden took place. It was "the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising." The Jacobites under Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) fought loyalist troops commanded by the Duke of Cumberland in the Scottish Highlands. "The Hanoverian victory at Culloden decisively halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never mounted any further attempts to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain." ("Battle of Culloden". Wikipedia)

The RGSSA holds the following unusual volume by an officer who was with he Bonnie Prince at Culloden:

O’Sullivan, John, 1700-
1745 and after / [compiled] by Alistair Tayler and Henrietta Tayler : London Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., [1938]

The work consists  of a narrative and letters by O'Sullivan. The foreword by H. Tayler tells us: "This most interesting MS., entirely in the handwriting of O'Sullivan (found among the Stuart Papers at Windsor), is bound in a slim volume and lies among the Warrant books, etc., which form part of the Collection brought to England after various vicissitudes following on the death of Cardinal York, the last of the actual Stuart line, in 1807. These Papers were purchased on behalf of the British Government, and the full story of the negotiations and subsequent adventures of this precious deposit will be given elsewhere... It throws a good deal of light on the daily incidents of the Prince's campaign of 1745 and his wanderings, as well as on the last despairing effort of the Jacobite cause, which was finally extinguished by Hawke's victory at Quiberon Bay, 20th November 1759. The MS. is here printed by the gracious permission of His Majesty."

Sir John O'Sullivan was a Colonel in the French military, born in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1700. Intended for the priesthood, he was educated at Paris and Rome. On his father's sudden death he returned to Ireland. The Irish Penal Laws presented him with no choice but to forfeit his parental estate, as he would not renounce his adherence to the Catholic faith. He returned to France and joined the army. In 1739 he assisted Marshal Maillebois in a military action in Corsica that resulted in great suppression of liberty. O'Sullivan's service in Corsica, Italy and the Rhine campaign earned him the reputation as an able captain in guerrilla warfare. This led to his appointment as Adjutant and Quartermaster-General to the exiled Prince Charles Edward Stuart in France, "The Young Pretender" or "Bonnie Prince Charlie."
    In 1745 O'Sullivan accompanied the Prince to Scotland. Considered loyal, and trusted implicitly, he was by Charles' side from the outset of the disastrous voyage from France that left the Prince without ships, men and ammunition. It is said that after the defeat at Culloden, John O'Sullivan was largely responsible for the Prince's escape from Scotland in October 1746. The Bonnie Prince's flight of course became legendary and is commemorated in popular folk songs, including The Skye Boat Song (lyrics 1884). O'Sullivan was knighted by the Prince's father, The Old Pretender, James, in 1747. The date of his death is not known.
    (Source: Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878. Thanks to Sandra Thompson for sourcing this biographical information)

Strange but true: The Culloden connection is the only thing that can explain the continuing Scottish references for April 16 in the cookery calendars over 40-odd years of the early 20th century! 365 foreign dishes: a foreign dish for every day in the year is an American cookbook, published in Philadelphia in 1908 (not held by RGSSA but find it on Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10011). It offers the following for April 16:

Scotch Loaf Cake
Mix 1/2 pound of butter with 1/4 pound of sugar, 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and 1/2 cup of shredded citron; then work in 1 pound of sifted flour with 2 teaspoonfuls of baking-powder. Make a loaf a half inch thick and bake in a moderate oven until done.

Then, circa 1951, in the Calendar of Cakes, published by the South Australian Country Women's Association, we find an Australian recipe for April 16, "Scotch Crispies." (They look like a fancier version of Anzac biscuits to me--nevertheless!) And about the same year, or perhaps 1952, in the South Australian CWA's Calendar of Puddings, we find "Free Kirk Pudding" for April 16. It’s very economical. No eggs. Scots wha hae.

No, the culinary touch isn't an April Fool, but you'll find the much less serious blog on Poissons d'avril posted 1st April, 2012 Australian Central Time, i.e. 31 March 2012 blog-time (don't ask):

This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes 

Monday 27 January 2014

Stuck in the Ice


Das Eismeer (The Sea of Ice), by Caspar Friedrich (1774-1840),
inspired by William Parry's Arctic expedition of 1819-20
January 2014 was enlivened by the misadventure of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, chartered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, that got stuck in the Antarctic ice.

Maybe I ought to stress at this point that all the opinions in this blog are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.

So I'm gonna say this. All the interviews I saw on TV gave me the impression the "scientific" team had no idea of the conditions they'd be facing—and gee, know what? It isn't the first time, by any means! The whole history of polar exploration is one of being stuck in the ice. But by the 21st century? I'd suggest there is absolutely no excuse for this misadventure. It's a dangerous environment, it's known to be a dangerous environment, and anyone who blithely sails into it unprepared, never mind it's "summer," what a misnomer, is asking for it and shouldn't be surprised when they get it. I see that The Australian headlined its report of 22 January "Ship of fools": good on it. (You can read it at http://www.sott.net/article/272363-Ship-of-fools-Icebound-expeditioners-apologise-for-Antarctic-rescue-mission ) Its comment reads: "And no, Chris Turney [the spokesperson] aka 'the Penguin' is no experienced Antarctic scientist unless we add political scientists and spin doctors into the equation." Zat so? Why am I not surprised to hear it?
    Of course Harry was down there at about the same time, putting himself at risk, which is entirely his own business, but also putting the lives of those who might have had to rescue him at risk. Thank you for that, Your Royal Highness. It's a miracle you and your lot didn't also have to be hauled out of it.
    Perhaps it was that daft BBC David Attenborough thing with the penguins—I'm not wholly immune to the cuteness of penguins but by the end of it I felt I wouldn't care if I never saw another one—maybe it was it, that made the intrepid adventurers of the Akademik Shokalskiy imagine they could get away with it. My lasting impression of that telly saga—apart from the penguins and penguins and penguins—is of those nits in their polar gear bent double with their cameras, while the predicted blizzard howled in over the slope above them. Gee, guys, it wasn't worth it in order to bring the couch potatoes of the world lovely shots of p—Them.
    If you're still with me, dear blog readers, I can prove that the history of polar exploration is one of getting stuck in the ice, and should be a warning to anyone who thinks of going to either the Arctic or Antarctica: the RGSSA has got the books that are the proof. Does anyone take account of the lessons of history these days? ("No!" you cry.) Never mind, here are some notes about just some of those genuine explorers who got stuck in the ice before January 2014.

In search of the sunny Polar Sea in the 1590s
One of the earliest recorded Arctic voyages where the ship was icebound was that of Willem Barentsz in the late 16th century.

Willem Barentsz's ship in the Arctic ice

Veer, Gerrit de.
The three voyages of William Barents to the Arctic regions : 1594, 1595, and 1596. London : Hakluyt Society, 1876. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society ; no. 54)
Willem Barentsz (or Barents), circa 1550-1597, was a 16th-century Dutch navigator, cartographer and explorer. The Barents Sea, Barentsburg and Barents Region are named after him. Starting off in life as a cartographer, he sailed to Spain and the Mediterranean, compiling an atlas of the Mediterranean region, which he co-published with Petrus Plancius. His career as an Arctic explorer was spent searching for the Northeast Passage to the East: his reasoning was that north of Siberia there must be open water, free of ice, since the sun shone 24 hours a day up there. Don’t laugh—this was pretty good for the time: it was only 50 years since Copernicus's death and Galileo would only have been in this thirties and had not yet done his greatest work. Barentsz made three Arctic voyages in search of the Passage, in the course of which he discovered Bear Island and Spitsbergen, had more than one bloody confrontation with polar bears, and became stuck in the polar ice. A crewmember, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, published an account of the first two voyages.
    During the third voyage, in ships captained by Jan Corneliszoon Rijp and Jacob van Heemskerk under Barentsz's command, Gerrit de Veer, the ship's carpenter, whose account of Barentsz's voyages is held by the RGSSA, was the first person to witness and record the atmospheric anomaly known as the "Novaya Zemlya effect," or "rectangular sun", a polar mirage in which the sun seems to be rising too soon and appears as a line or a square. (See http://www.eh2r.com/mp/data3.html for more information & some extraordinary images.) Barentsz died during this last voyage.
    Some of the RGSSA's rare early publications also contain material on Barentsz, notably:

Bry, Johann Theodor de, 1561-1623?
Indiae Orientalis pars undecima ... Nunc primum latio donata, atq; elegantissime in aes incisis imaginibus illustrata. Sumptibus atq; opera Johannis Theodori de Bry civis ac Bibliopole Oppenhemensis. Oppenhemii : typis Hieronymi Galleri, 1691.
This early classic set of voyages contains 3 works. It is the third item, Descriptio regionis Spitzbergae, which is concerned with Barentsz; it is: "A geographical description of Spitzbergen and a refutation of the claims of the English to the northern whale fisheries, with the journal of the voyage of Willem Barentsz and Jan Corneliszoon Rijp in 1596."

Northwest Passage and English obsession

Northwest Passage routes, based on a NASA photograph
By the end of the 18th century, in the wake of the voyages of Cook and Vancouver, British interest in the polar regions had awakened. The earlier part of the 19th century saw a huge explosion in British polar exploration, more especially in the Arctic. They became obsessed with finding the Northwest Passage. The original impulse was the cash nexus: the passage would be a faster way to the riches of India and the Far East than sailing round Africa. As the Pacific began to be properly explored in the late 18th century, the fabled Passage also offered a tempting faster way to the Pacific itself, rather than the risky and terrifying voyage round Cape Horn. At least, that's pretty much the official line. But once you start looking at account after account of yet another British expedition—usually Royal Navy vessels—setting off for the far north, you can't help but realise that after a while these efforts had little or nothing to do with trade. This was an obsession in full flower.

Parry: early successes in spite of the ice
William Parry must have been an extraordinary man. He was most certainly an able navigator, and an excellent expedition leader. The RGSSA has catalogued 4 of his books of Arctic exploration, published from 1821 to 1828, covering his voyages which began in 1819. The context? At home they were wearing high-waisted muslin dresses and reading Jane Austen's Persuasion, just published the year before. Can you imagine what it must have been like, setting off for the frozen polar wastes in a small wooden sailing ship in 1819? Look how the ice dwarfs her!

Parry's ship Hecla in Baffin Bay, on his 1819-1820 expedition:
foreground, a small boat desperately pulls her away from the giant iceberg
Parry, William Edward, Sir, 1790-1855.
Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific : performed in the years 1819-20, in His Majesty's ships Hecla and Griper, under the orders of William Edward Parry. London : John Murray, 1821
One of the most successful of all the searches for a Northwest Passage was one of the earliest. On the first voyage under his command Parry sailed straight through Lancaster Sound, with his two ships, Hecla and Griper, and reached Melville Island. It would be more than 30 years before another ship would get that far. Being the first ship to cross the 110° longitude line won him a £5000 reward offered by the Board of Longitude. Hecla and Griper were the first British ships to winter over in the Arctic, when they were frozen in at Winter Harbour, Melville Island. Many of the landmarks of the Arctic region whose names we see today were named by Parry on this first amazing voyage: Melville Island, Barrow Strait, Beechey Island.

Parry, William Edward, Sir, 1790-1855.
Journal of a second voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific : performed in the years 1821-22-23 in His Majesty's ships Fury and Hecla, under the orders of Captain William Edward Parry. London : John Murray, 1824
This second attempt to find the Northwest Passage was made through Foxe Channel and Frozen Strait, north of Hudson Bay, but it did not succeed in finding a way west. This time Parry's ships, Fury and Hecla, were frozen in for two years. His narrative is remarkable for detailed observation of the Inuit—the “Esquimaux,” as they called them. It was another first for Parry. The accompanying illustrations by George Lyon, commanding Hecla, help to flesh out this early contribution to the anthropology of the Arctic.

Parry, William Edward, Sir, 1790-1855.
Journal of a third voyage for the discovery of a North-West passage : from the Atlantic to the Pacific : performed in the years 1824-25, in His Majesty's ships Hecla and Fury. London : John Murray, 1826.
On his third trip, again with Hecla and Fury, Parry again went through Lancaster Sound, following the route of his first voyage, and then turned south through Prince Regent's Inlet. However, the going was almost immediately blocked by pack ice. They spent a winter at Port Bowen on the eastern shore. They tried to struggle on the next year, but lost Fury to the ice on a beach on Somerset Island, on the western side of the Inlet: Fury Beach. The ship had to be abandoned and the two crews got home in Hecla.
    Parry, however, was not discouraged, and his fourth Arctic voyage, of 1827, is chronicled in his Narrative of an attempt to reach the North Pole : in boats fitted for the purpose and attached to His Majesty's ship Hecla in the year MDCCCXXVII. (London :John Murray, 1828). This time Parry decided to head north over the Pole. The heavy pack ice had prevented earlier attempts from getting further than Spitsbergen. Rather than risk getting another ship irretrievably stuck in the polar ice, Parry decided to use 2 sledge-boats, which he named Enterprise and Endeavour. They were small enough for the explorers to tow them over the ice on runners, but seaworthy enough for the open sea. Hecla made it to Walden Island, north of Spitsbergen, and the party carried on with the sledge-boats. In spite of the very hard going in the face of the southerly flow of the ice floes they got as far north as Latitude 82°45’, a record that was not broken for nearly 50 years. The cold defeated them and they turned back. They had, however, ruled out the existence of a way to the North Pole from the eastern side of Greenland.

Beechey, a practical man from a family of artists
Good judgment, good seamanship or just good luck? Beechey's ship HMS Blossom (what a lovely name for an Arctic explorer's ship!) became icebound in 1826, but he providently had loaded a small schooner aboard (which he called a "barge") and was able to use it to keep pushing ahead. It was seaworthy, could sail in close to the shore, having little draught, and at need could be towed across the ice.

Braving the ice: Beechey's "barge"

Peard, George, 1783-1837.
To the Pacific and Arctic with Beechey : the journal of Lieutenant George Peard of H.M.S. Blossom, 1825-1828.
Cambridge : Published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press, 1973. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society ; Second series, no. 143)

Frederick William Beechey (1796-1856), whose father and brother were artists, was already an experienced Arctic explorer when in 1825 he was given command of HMS Blossom to explore the Arctic, approaching through the Bering Strait, and then meeting up with John Franklin. In July 1826 Beechey reached Kotzebue Sound, their meeting point, but Franklin was not there. Beechey continued on, passing Icy Cape, the furthest point reached by Captain Cook. With Blossom blocked by ice, Beechey's barge was able to reach a major headland, which he later named Point Barrow: the northernmost point on the American continent west of Boothia. There was no sign of Franklin, however, and so they turned back. Beechey's own account, Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Berings Strait to Co-operate with the Polar Expeditions, 1825-1828, appeared in 1831.

Icebound and lost forever
The name "Sir John Franklin" has become synonymous with British Arctic exploration of the first half of the 19th century—not because of his success but because of the disaster of his vanishing complete with ships and men. Years later a few remains were found, but it's a very long story and I shan't go into it now.
    Franklin led several polar expeditions: the RGSSA holds his Narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1819, 20, 21 and 22 (London: John Murray, 1823) and his Narrative of a second expedition to the shores of the polar sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827 (London: John Murray, 1828).
    He seems to have been the sort of naval officer, only too common at the time, who could not see his crew as fellow human beings. The 1819-1822 venture was an overland expedition to explore the northern coast of Canada east from the mouth of the Coppermine River. The party explored some 320K of coastline, but Franklin fatally delayed the return journey until the food supply was exhausted, and 11 men died of starvation or suicide, having been reduced to eating lichen. It is known that Franklin and his fellow officers did not help the men to carry supplies or hunt for game. Lowering oneself in such a way might have been considered unworthy of a commissioned officer, but under these conditions it frequently led to disaster.
    On his second venture Franklin was better prepared, with several special ocean-going small boats. They went along the Mackenzie River to the northern coast, where they split into 2 parties, one party heading east, and Franklin going westwards in 2 boats, Lion and Reliance, hoping to meet up with Beechey at Kotzebue Sound (see above). Franklin, however, ran into heavy ice and could not get through it to the rendezvous.

Franklin's small boats, Lion & Reliance, in the ice
This venture was much more successful than the previous one: they mapped over 1200 miles of Arctic coastline, leaving only two strips left unsurveyed.
    Franklin's was a varied career: from 1836 to 1843 he was lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). But by 1845 he was in the Arctic again, in command of an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. The expedition ships, Erebus and Terror, with 138 officers and men, were last seen by a whaling vessel on July 26, 1845, in Baffin Bay. The ice had won.

Gone but not forgotten
After Franklin's expedition in search of the Northwest Passage disappeared completely somewhere in the frozen north, the British obsession with the Passage got worse, not better. True, his widow, Jane, Lady Franklin, campaigned unceasingly for rescue expeditions to be sent out, and the official line is that her efforts worked. Well, yes, to some extent, no doubt: but personally, my mind boggles at the idea of the Lords of the Admiralty taking much notice of any female, however wellborn and well connected. No. By this time, it had become an idée fixe, and the British authorities had too much invested in the notion, both materially and psychologically, to let it go. Besides, what if some dashed foreigner found the Passage first?
    You don’t believe me? Assimilate this: the RGSSA Library holds 21 contemporary accounts of voyages in search of Franklin—and remember, the collection is still only half catalogued!

The men who went in search of Franklin pretty well composed a litany of the good, the bad and the very ugly—a real cross-section of the naval officers of the era. Good or bad, however, they were still at the mercy of the polar ice. The ways in which they dealt with it say quite a lot about their characters.

Stuck in the ice—but yes! There is a Northwest Passage!

"Critical position of H.M.S. Investigator. On the North Coast of Bering Island,
August 20 1851" by Samuel Gurney Cresswell
It was Robert McClure who discovered the seaway between the furthest reaches of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in far north Canada, as documented in his book, first published in 1856 and rapidly republished the next year:

McClure, Robert John Le Mesurier, Sir, 1807-1873
The discovery of the North-west Passage by H.M.S. "Investigator", Capt. R. M'Clure, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1856
McClure's arduous journey was made by sledge over the pack ice as well as by ship. It would be another 55 years before a navigator, Roald Amundsen, would sail the Northwest Passage.
    This expedition is represented in some of the most iconic pictures of Arctic exploration, in:

Cresswell, Samuel Gurney, 1827-1867
A series of eight sketches in colour (together with a chart of the route), by Lieut. S. Gurney Cresswell, of the voyage of H.M.S. Investigator (Captain M'Clure), during the discovery of the North-West Passage. London : Day and Son, 1854
McClure (sometimes M'Clure) was a very able navigator, and, unlike far too many ships' captains of the time, a kindly and caring man. He had gone into the Royal Navy at 17, in 1824, and his first voyage to the Arctic, in 1836, was as mate on Terror under the command of George Back. It was his first experience of being stuck in the ice: the ship became icebound and damaged, but eventually limped back to Britain. In 1848 McClure again headed for the polar regions, as First Lieutenant on Enterprise, one of the ships of the first expedition to find John Franklin, under Sir John Ross.
    1850 saw the launch of a new expedition in search of Franklin, under the command of Richard Collinson, on Enterprise. McClure was captaining the second ship, Investigator. They sailed south together to Cape Horn and reached the Pacific, but became separated and lost touch completely. McClure continued with the mission, taking Investigator all the way north to the Bering Strait and along the coast of Alaska. He was the first European to land on Banks Island in the far north of Canada; from there he sailed north, naming the strait between Banks Island and Victoria Island the Prince of Wales Strait.
    Winter closed in and Investigator became stuck in the ice. McClure's sledging parties, however, went eastwards from the Prince of Wales Strait to Viscount Melville Sound, confirming that this was the seaway to the east. This was significant, for at its eastern end the sound connects via Barrow Strait with Baffin Bay, which is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean. McClure's expedition had thus found the complete Northwest Passage, though the pack ice prevented them from sailing all the way.
    When the ice broke up in the spring of 1852 they were forced back to the west by the ice floes. Under continual threat from the giant icebergs breaking free of the polar ice pack, McClure sheltered in an inlet which he named Mercy Bay. Winter was not so merciful, however, and they were iced in again, with rations growing dangerously short. "McClure made elaborate plans for evacuating the less healthy members [of his crew] who would be unlikely to stand the rigours of a third winter. He had always shown a great concern for their health, delighted in their amusements during the long hours of winter inactivity, and won their respect and affection." (Baker, J. N. L. "McClure, Sir Robert John Le Mesurier", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=5136 )
    In March 1853, however, they were rescued by a sledge party from HMS Resolute, under the command of Henry Kellett, who had read the message that McClure had left at Winter Harbour, on Melville Island. Captain Kellett's ship was part of another Royal Naval expedition under Sir Edward Belcher (see further below). The party sledged back in 1854 to Beechey Island, where they joined a supply ship from Belcher's Arctic Squadron and sailed home with the remains of Belcher's expedition.

Captain Belcher was not a good man, he had his little ways...
Belcher's decision to abandon his ship, HMS Assistance, became infamous.

"H.M.S. Assistance blown out of Winter Quarters, October 1853"
Edward Belcher's naval career had several notable high points, but not a few low ones. He was a proud man whose inflated idea of his own abilities meant that he refused to listen to advice when he should have. He was known for his harshness in command: he seems to have had a cruel streak. By the time he set off for his last Arctic voyage he had already been arraigned twice for cruelty to his crew, and he certainly treated his wife very badly. They had only been married for 3 years when she left him in 1833, on the grounds that he had given her two doses of VD. A long legal battle ensued, which Belcher is said to have spitefully prolonged.
    The ways of the Royal Navy being what they were, Belcher was never kicked out for his maltreatment of his men. He was variously punished and exonerated, and actually given a knighthood in 1843, having distinguished himself in the battles at Canton, China, which resulted in the ceding of Hong Kong to Britain.
    In 1852 Belcher was put in charge of an expedition of five ships to search for traces of Franklin. Belcher's Arctic Squadron was to become known for its failures.

Belcher, Edward, Sir, 1799-1877
The last of the Arctic voyages : being a narrative of the expedition in H.M.S. Assistance under the command of Captain Sir Edward Belcher, C.B., in search of Sir John Franklin, during the years 1852-53-54. London : Lovell Reeve, 1855

The geography of these Arctic voyages is really hard to follow—especially since a large part of the time the mariners weren't contending with geographical features, they were contending with the ice! So, as I have spent hours puzzling over the maps, I'll just say here that Belcher sailed into Arctic waters from the east, heading in from the direction of Baffin Bay via Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait, and established a base on the small Beechey Island in far north Canada, just off the southwest corner of Devon Island. You can see its position on the map below:

Wintering over in the Arctic during 1853, Assistance and her steam tender, HMS Pioneer, were frozen in by September of that year. Efforts were made to free them by blasting the ice with gunpowder, but without success. On 25 August 1854 Belcher abandoned Assistance in the ice off Bathurst Island. He then ordered the abandonment of all the expedition ships to the ice, ignoring the strong objections of Captain Kellett of Resolute. All crews were ordered back to the transport ships at Beechey Island. From there they eventually got home.
    This disaster—like some others!—was far from entirely the fault of the treacherous polar conditions. Pride usually comes before a fall, and this is a prime example. "Belcher must take part of the blame ..., for he refused to take the advice of skilled Arctic navigators ... and as a result blundered into the heaviest ice." (Stuart-Stubbs, Basil. "Belcher, Sir Edward," Dictionary of Canadian Biography online. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?id_nbr=4819 )
    Back in England Belcher once again had to face a court martial: this time for abandoning his ships. He was acquitted when he showed that his orders had given him complete discretion during the expedition. Nevertheless his reputation as a seaman and expedition leader was irretrievably damaged. Thinking of his poor wife, I can't say I'm sorry.

Using and beating the ice: Scandinavian strategists
By the end of the 19th century we are in the era of well-prepared, seasoned Scandinavian polar exploration. These explorers knew they were at the mercy of the ice, but they also knew how to deal with it.

Stuck in the ice as a strategy: Nansen's Fram, 1893-1896
Nansen, Fridtjof, 1861-1930.
Farthest north, being the record of a voyage of exploration of the ship Fram, 1893-96, and of a fifteen months' sleigh journey by Dr. Nansen and Lieut. Johansen. London : Newnes, 1898

The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen had decided to try to reach the North Pole by using the east-west current of the Arctic Ocean. Other polar explorers scoffed at the notion: nevertheless Nansen took his ship Fram to the New Siberian Islands in the eastern Arctic Ocean and froze her into the pack ice, waiting for the drift to carry her towards the Pole.

Fram in the ice, March 1894
After 18 months nothing much had happened: Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen left the ship with a team of dogs and sledges and made for the Pole on foot. They didn't reach it, but they achieved the record "Farthest North" latitude, 86°13.6'N. They then retreated safely to Franz Josef Land in north-western Russia.
    The experiment was not a total failure. The good ship Fram was moving, but very slowly. She continued drifting westwards, finally emerging in the North Atlantic Ocean. Nansen would retire from exploration after this, concentrating on the study of oceanography, then a new science. His scientific observations during the Fram Expedition made a significant contribution to the discipline, proving "conclusively that there were no significant land masses between the Eurasian continents and the North Pole." The concept of a vast polar sea of course dates back at least as far as Barentsz—though by the 19th century explorers no longer expected it to be ice-free under the influence of the midnight sun. This, however, was scientific proof.
    Nansen was an extremely intelligent man who did his research and worked out his strategies in advance. You can read his determination and intelligence in his face, in this striking photo from the collection of the U.S. Library of Congress:

Unlike some, he also had a thorough knowledge of Arctic conditions, and "the methods of travel and survival he developed with Johansen influenced all the polar expeditions, north and south, which followed in the subsequent three decades." ("Nansen's 'Fram' expedition", Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nansen%27s_Fram_expedition )

Icebound but not abandoned: Amundsen's success

Amundsen's Gjøa safe at Nome, Alaska, 31 August 1906
Amundsen, Roald, 1872-1928.
Roald Amundsen's "The North West passage" : being the record of a voyage of exploration of the ship "Gjöa" 1903-1907. London : Constable, 1908

The famous Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen had already had a lot of Arctic experience well before he reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911. He also located the North Magnetic Pole and navigated the fabled Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, the first successful voyage right through the Passage. It was during his voyage in the Gjøa, when he spent two winters at King William Island in the Canadian Arctic calculating the exact position of the North Magnetic Pole, that he became icebound:
    "By late September [1903] Gjøa was west of the Boothia Peninsula and began to encounter worsening weather and sea ice. Amundsen put her into a natural harbour on the south shore of King William Island; by October 3 she was iced in. There she remained for nearly two years, with her crew undertaking sledge journeys to make measurements ... and learning from the local Inuit people." ("Gjøa", Wikipedia)
   Amundsen travelled 800 km overland to the telegraph at Fort Eagle, Alaska, to announce success. He then went all the way back to the Gjøa, rescued her, and sailed her all the way to San Francisco. He had timed it right: his experience of polar conditions had allowed him to triumph over the murderous grip of the ice. It would be a large contributing factor in his beating the British expedition under Scott to the South Pole.

Icebound in the South
You can be an experienced polar explorer but still be caught by the ice—as Shackleton's second expedition to Antarctica more than proved.
Shackleton's Endurance stuck in the Antarctic ice
Shackleton, Ernest Henry, Sir, 1874-1922
The heart of the Antarctic : being the story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909. London : W. Heinemann, 1909

Shackleton, Ernest Henry, Sir, 1874-1922
South : the story of Shackleton's last expedition 1914-17. London : Century, 1991

Shackleton was one of the most famous British Antarctic explorers of the early 20th century. In 1907 he commanded the first official British attempt to reach the South Pole, the British Antarctic Expedition. He broke the record, reaching Latitude 88°23'S in early 1909, but had to turn back when he ran out of supplies. During this expedition his party also achieved a climb of Mount Erebus. Shackleton was knighted on his return.
    His next expedition, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) was an attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica, from the Weddell Sea (off the South Atlantic) to the Ross Sea (off the South Pacific). Before the explorers could reach the coast their ship, Endurance, became stuck in the pack ice. After ten months the ship broke up and sank, and the crew drifted in an open boat for another five months before reaching Elephant Island, north of the Antarctic Peninsula. A small group rowed some 1,600K to South Georgia, where Shackleton was able to summon help.

Images of Endurance in the ice are some of the best known in the history of Antarctic exploration. But they don’t seem to have suggested that, even if it's now a hundred years on, no-one is invulnerable, do they?

Endurance sinks, crushed by the ice
This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes