Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of The Great Fish River and Along the Shores of the Arctic Ocean, in the years 1833, 1834 and 1835. Illustrated By a Map and Plates.
London, John Murray, 1836. 14.5 cm x 21 cm. Frontispiece, X, 663 pages. 14 (of 15) very rare lithographic plates (one plate missing). Fold-out map at rear missing. Hardcover / half leather with marbled boards. Gilt lettering on red title label, gilt stamps and blind tooling to spine compartments. Top-stain. Binding in poor condition with stronger signs of wear and the spine with stain but intact. Cracks to gutter between front pastedown and endpaper. Binding still firm and tight. Occasional foxing to some plates. Damp-stains to preliminary pages. Interior mostly bright and clean otherwise. Text block is solid and square. Name of pre-owner on front endpaper. From the library of Royal Navy Captain Richard Morgan with his bookplate carrying the motto “Dum Spiro Spero” to front pastedown.
Includes, for example, the following: Departure from England / Commencement of the Expedition / Arrive at Fort Chipewyan / Indian Encampment / Arrival at Fort Resolution /A Bear Hunt / Eastern Extremity of Great Slave Lake / Encampment upon Cook’s Lake / Discovery of the Thlewee-Choh /Anecdote of Sir John Franklin / Strange Appearance of the Aurora / Superstitious Fancies / Arrival of Mr McLeod / Eastern Shore of Artillery Lake / Geological Features of the Country / Sinclair’s Falls / Ross Island / Removal of the Esquimaux / Depart for Montreal / Return to England / Appendix – Zoological Remarks by Dr. John Richardson – List of Plants collected by Mr. Richard King – Geological Notice of the New Country passed over in Captain Back’s Expedition, by Dr. W.K. Fitton – Magnetical Observations etc.
Admiral Sir George Back FRS (6 November 1796 – 23 June 1878) was a British Royal Navy officer, explorer of the Canadian Arctic, naturalist and artist who helped to trace the Arctic coastline of North America. He twice accompanied the British explorer John Franklin to Canada’s Northwest Territories (1819–22 and 1825–27) and later conducted two expeditions of his own to the same region.
In 1833 Lt. Back was appointed to command an expedition to search for another explorer, Sir John Ross, who had been missing in the Arctic since 1829. In May 1834, news reached Back that Ross was safely back in England so he decided to trace the 500-mile course of the Great Fish River which he completed successfully. Then, after mapping Montreal Island, the expedition headed home and in recognition of his achievements, Back was not only promoted Captain – by Order in Council, an honour which no other officer in the navy had received except King William IV, but additionally had the satisfaction of having the Great Fish River renamed in his honour. Once home, Back also wrote the first of his two books Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River which was published to enthusiastic acclaim.
Appointed Captain of the HMS ‘Terror’ for the expedition to map the last sections of the uncharted coast of north America in 1836-37, Back returned home defeated by the ice and was thereafter an invalid for several years during which he wrote the second of two books on his Arctic adventures, Narrative of an Expedition in H.M.S. Terror, published in 1838.
He was knighted in 1839, gained nomination of rear-admiral, advised during time of the search for John Franklin’s lost expedition, served as vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society and reached rank of full Admiral in 1876. (Source: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica and Famous-explorers websites)
The first of these expeditions, in 1833, was to search for another British explorer, John Ross, who had disappeared on an Arctic voyage in 1829. The venture resulted in the exploration of the Great Fish River, now the Back River. In 1836 Back returned to explore the coastal region east from the mouth of the river. H