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ISBN: 9781780277875
Published: 07 Sep 2023
Format: Hardback
Extent: 464
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Birlinn
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About the Book

Surprisingly, the remarkable story of the Scottish role in the discovery of the Northwest Passage – a long desired trade route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific – has not received a great deal of attention. This book charts the extensive contribution to Arctic exploration made by the Scots, including significant names, such as John Ross from Stranraer, veteran of three Arctic expeditions; his nephew, James Clark Ross, the most experienced Arctic and Antarctic explorer of his generation and discoverer of the Magnetic North Pole; John Richardson of Dumfries, a medical doctor, seasoned explorer and engaging natural historian; and Orcadian John Rae, who discovered evidence of the grisly demise of John Franklin and his crew. The book also pays tribute to many others too: the Scotch Irish, the whalers and not least the Inuit, with whom the Scottish explorers cooperated and generally enjoyed good relations, relying on their knowledge of the environment in many crucial cases.

The awakening of the Scots to the magnificence and dread of the hyperborean regions – as places of discovery, of inspiration and, regrettably, of exploitation – is traced, with particular emphasis on the first half of the nineteenth century until the search for the missing Franklin expedition mid-century.

The Author

E.J. Cowan

Edward J. Cowan was formerly Professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow and Director of the university’s Dumfries Campus. He previously taught at the Universities of Edinburgh and Guelph, Ontario. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he died in January 2022.

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