Franklin, Sir John
After serving (1836–43) as governor of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), Franklin set out in the Erebus and the Terror in 1845 to search for the Northwest Passage. When, three years later, no word from him had been received, there was dispatched the first of the more than 40 parties that in the following years were to search the Arctic for traces of the expedition. Although the geographical knowledge gained by the searchers was immense, no certain clues as to Franklin's fate were revealed until John Rae, in 1853–54, and Sir Francis McClintock, between 1857 and 1859, found evidence of the great arctic tragedy. The latter expedition, fitted by Lady Franklin, found records at Point Victory that established that Franklin's ships had been frozen in the ice between Victoria Island and King William Island. After his death in 1847, the survivors had abandoned ship in 1848 and had undertaken a journey southward over the frozen wastes of Boothia Peninsula toward civilization. Of the entire expedition of some 129 men, not one is known to have survived. Relics and documents of the Franklin party and of later search expeditions were found into the late 20th cent., but not until 2014 was the wreck of the Erebus found, in the E Queen Maud Gulf off the Adelaide Peninsula. In 2016 the Terror was found off SW King William Island.
See biographies of Franklin by A. H. Markham (1891) and H. D. Traill (1896); the life, diaries, and correspondence of his wife, Lady Franklin (ed. by W. F. Rawnsley, 1923); R. Collinson, Journal of HMS Enterprise on the Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin's Ships (1869, repr. 1976); P. Nantor, Arctic Breakthrough (1970); L. Neatby, The Search for Franklin (1970); A. Brandt, The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage (2010); P. Watson, Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition (2017).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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