Book review:-‘The Magnetism of Antarctica: The Ross expedition 1839–1843’ by J. Knigh

By Máire MacNeill, published May 2024


Erebus and Terror are two of the most famous ship names in maritime history, and their final, ill-fated voyage into the Arctic ice for the 1845 Franklin expedition has been paid tribute to in novels, travelogues, songs and television shows. However, many readers will be less familiar with the ships’ earlier histories, in which they performed important work as, variously, bomb ships and exploration vessels. John Knight’s book focuses on the two ships’ penultimate voyage into the Antarctic to survey the continent and carry out magnetic measurements. The last major expedition undertaken wholly under sail power, its scientific discoveries range from the geographical (the Ross ice shelf) to the zoological (the Ross seal), as well as setting a new ‘Farthest South’ record, which remained unchallenged for nearly 60 years. The expedition is also notable for providing the young Joseph Dalton Hooker with experience of botanical fieldwork…

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Filed under: Nineteenth Century
Subjects include: Biography | Manpower & Life at Sea | Science & Exploration

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