Just watched a PBS documentary on the Lost Franklin Expedition, a 19th century British attempt to locate an Arctic passage to the Pacific Ocean that ended in total disaster – all 133 men and officers died, probably of starvation and exposure.
My interest in this ill-fated expedition was first piqued by Dan Simmons’ supernatural cum historical novel The Terror. It’s a superbly told, highly imagintive yet firmly grounded fictionalization of the experdition. One can feel the Arctic coldness radiate from the pages; reading about life aboard the ice-bound ships produces continuous spine-tingles (how else to describe the feeling?) at the valient but ultimately unsuccessful efforts of the crew to save themselves. Finally, The Terror is a fascinating look at the cultures of the Royal Navy of Victorian England. Highly recommended.