Parry of the Arctic: The Life Story of Admiral Sir Edward Parry 1790-1855.

A biography by his great-great-granddaughter. Only the first half of the book deals with Parry’s Arctic experience.

p. 30, when Sir Joseph Banks offered Parry access to his extensive Arctic library: He desired that I would come to him as often as I pleased (the oftener the better) and read or take away any books I could find in his library that might be of service to me.

p. 37, on his first journey [July 1818] to Baffin Bay: Parry was conscious of ‘those darling old fellows, Baffin and Davis’ whose journals accompanied him, and his admiration for them grew daily.”

p. 40, Aug 30: Next day they were still standing up this grand inlet, and as it was Sunday, he mustered the ship’s company for the morning service and read one of Cooper’s Practical Sermons as he had done every week.

p. 60, re a trip to Melville Island on Hecla, 1819: They had not been long in Winter Harbour when Parry proposed that they get up a play ‘for the amusement of the Officers, and to divert the minds of the men during the tedious period of constant darkness…. Lieutenant Beechey is elected our Manager’. On November 5, Garrick’s ‘Miss in Her Teens’ was presented on the Hecla’s deck to the assembled companies of both ships, Parry taking the part of Fribble. It was a triumph and other productions followed at fortnightly intervals. The slender stock of plays was soon exhausted and ‘our authors’ got busy. Parry was co-author of a piece entitled ‘The North-West Passage, or Voyage Finished’, an operetta in which the Passage was of course found and the cast represented three of the Hecla’s seamen, two of the Griper’s, an Eskimo and a polar bear…. Midshipman Ross with his girlish complexion was much in demand for female parts. ‘The good effect of these performances is more and more perceived by us: and we shall certainly go on with them, till we can have a nobler employment.’

He dreaded boredom as their worst enemy, particularly for ‘persons not possessing any resource within themselves’. For the same reason he proposed starting a newspaper, which took shape as ‘The Winter Chronicle and North Georgia Gazette’.”

p. 62, [Feb. 1820]: The day cabin was ‘scarcely habitable’. The officers sat about in their greatcoats and tried to concentrate on their usual evening amusements—reading, playing chess, and music-making. When Parry had laid aside his violin, he would write up his journal for the day….

p. 68 footnote: All Parry’s fixes west of about Prince Regent Inlet needed correcting by a few minutes to the east, due to faulty astronomical tables with which they were provided: this came to light on his Third Voyage.

p. 76, during the second winter of the second voyage [1821]: All their winter pursuits were renewed, the stage being erected ‘on a larger and more commodious scale’, and Parry’s last contribution to the art of a well-spent Arctic winter was to start schools for those of the men who wished to learn to read and write…. In years to come Parry liked to boast that every man who sailed with him could read his Bible on his return.