Lady Franklin's Revenge
Ken McGoogan tells the true story of ambition, obsession and the remaking of Arctic history.
Lady Franklin’ was a remarkable British woman who, denied a constructive role by the male-dominated society into which she was born, took her revenge in mid-life by seizing control of that most masculine of enterprises, Arctic exploration, and shaping its history to her own ends. Born into a world that decreed her place to be in the home, Jane Franklin (1791-1875) rebelled without ever declaring it. Arguably the greatest woman traveler of the age, she rode a donkey into Nazareth, sailed a rat-infested boat up the Nile River, and beat her way through the Tasmanian bush. She rode elephants in Rajasthan, scrambled up volcanoes in Hawaii, and, at age seventy, circumnavigated the globe in steamers and rough sailing ships.
When her husband, Sir John Franklin, disappeared into the Arctic in 1845 while searching for the Northwest Passage, the dauntless Jane launched an unprecedented, twelve-year search. She raised funds, organized expeditions, stipulated routes, appointed captains, and dispatched ships, so contributing more to the discovery and mapping of northern North America than any other individual. Having failed to rescue the ill-fated Franklin, Jane worked through powerful male surrogates – among them Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, and the American magnate Henry Grinnell – to eradicate inconvenient truths, create a legend of her hapless husband, and change the course of Arctic history.
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