Ice Blink: The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin’s Last Polar Expedition

p. 11, On Hobson’s discovery in 1859 of the remains of the Franklin party: vi books—five Bibles and The Vicar of Wakefield—were also discovered, but no journals.

p. 97-98, wintering on H.M.S. Terror in 1846-47. Sketch of the lower deck plan shows the ship’s Great Cabin: At the stern was the Great Cabin, filled with a library of some 1,200 volumes.

p. 98: Aft of the officers’ mess room, occupying the stern of the ship, was the great cabin, the only truly capacious place aboard. It was 12 feet long by 24 feet wide, with lockers on three sides and bookshelves, holding 1,200 volumes, on the fourth. A large table, 6 feet by 5 feet, sat in the center of the cabin. The selection of books was extensive. There were narratives of Ross’s and Parry’s expeditions, geographical journals, works on navigation, astronomy, natural history, philosophy, medicine, and religion. For the less serious, there were novels, including The Vicar of Wakefield and Ivanhoe, and bound copies of Punch…. This was the officers’ primary refuge throughout the winter, the only place where a man could forget, for a time, the freezing menace lurking outside.—this space was spacious compared to the men’s quarters which was “horrendously overcrowded.”

p. 104: At 7 p.m. the men could attend carefully planned classes in reading, writing, mathematics, geography, navigation, and astronomy. School books, spelling primers, pencils, and paper were listed in the ship’s manifests. Occasionally, there were amateur theatricals—anything to keep the men occupied. Officers, adjourned to the Great Cabin to use its library, play chess, cards, or draughts, and enjoy a pipe or cigar.

p. 105, re diseases: They [the surgeons] may have consulted Dr. Lind’s Treatise of the Scurvy and Essay; on the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen; the books were among the 2,900 volumes aboard Erebus and Terror.

p. 203, On Sir William Parry voyages in search of the Passage: Like Franklin, he took hymnals, books, writing desks, and school supplies. Parry also had “costumes for theatricals to keep up morale during long polar nights.”