Barrow’s Boys

p. 37, concerning the Parry and Ross Northwest Passage expedition on Isabella and Alexander, 1818: The officers, meanwhile, were supplied with a twenty-five-volume library of Arctic reference books, to which the Naval and Military Bible Society added ninety uplifting tracts to be shared between both ships.

p. 80, on North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle.

p. 113, again on Parry: On 9 November 1821 the Royal Arctic Theatre reopened, the officers shaving off their whiskers to act female parts and adorning themselves with a variety of costumes and props which they had bought before leaving England. Lyon was stage manager. Their first performance was Sheridan’s The Rivals in which Parry played Sir Anthony Absolute.

Other amusements included magic lantern shows, played on a device provided by an anonymous donor, and musical evenings for the officers which took place in Parry’s cabin. In addition, evening schools were arranged for those who could not read or write….

Christmas was ushered in with two farces from the Royal Arctic Players and a display of ‘phantasmagoria’ on the magic lantern…. On the more respectable Fury, Parry beamed with pride as the sailors came up like bashful schoolchildren to present him with examples of their writing. There was not a single man who had not learned how to do his alphabet. ‘It is, I confess with no ordinary feelings of pleasure,’ Parry later wrote, ‘that I record the fact that on the return of the Expedition to England, there was not an individual belonging to it who could not read his Bible.’

p. 174, Franklin at Fort Franklin, north of Great Bear Lake (1826): It was amply stocked with everything from food to a small library. They passed the winter in total comfort, the men playing shinty and blind-man’s bluff, while Franklin lounged back reading Dante and Milton.

p. 247, Ross and the Victory in 1828: a small library of Arctic reference books supplied by a grudgingly impressed Admiralty.

p. 284, Ross on same ship in 1829 while wintering: Like Parry, Ross aimed for constant activity…further chores kept them occupied until evening when, from 6 to 9 p.m., Ross oversaw a school covering reading, writing, arithmetic and navigation. Everyone attended these evening classes, their main challenge being to convert three of their colleagues to literacy. Sunday school was at 6 p.m.

Unlike Parry, however, Ross did not stoop to such frivolities as plays, masquerades and newspapers. His was a stern expedition operating under the wartime rules he was acquainted with.

p. 357, Ross and Hooker in Antarctica on Erebus, 1843: Hooker himself got on well with Moody, who gave him the run of his library, and the two became ‘great chums’. [See Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, ed. L. Huxley. Vol. I, 29 April 1843, p. 130.]