A collection of Lady Franklin's public letters offers a vital new perspective on one of the great tragedies of Victorian Britain.
The tragic fate of the lost Franklin expedition (1845-48) is a well-known part of exploration history, but there has always been a gap in the story - a personal account that begs to be told. In As affecting the fate of my absent husband, Erika Behrisch Elce has collected the poignant letters of Sir John Franklin's wife, Jane, which provide a vital new perspective on the tragedy.
From her optimistic requests to whaling ships to her persistent demands for Admiralty aid, Lady Franklin played a crucial role in the search for her husband. Her correspondence with British prime ministers, members of Parliament, lords of the Admiralty, and a US president presents a private, domestic side to a national tragedy and sheds new light on what Sir John Franklin's disappearance meant to England, its public, and its sense of itself as an imperial power. With comprehensive annotations, a descriptive timeline, and an introduction that outlines the significance of Lady Franklin's contribution to the "Arctic debate," As affecting the fate of my absent husband is a convincing portrait of the surprisingly disruptive effects - on both the public consciousness and the government bureaucracy - of a single, eloquent, voice of dissent.
As affecting the fate of my absent husband is essential reading not only for anyone interested in Victorian adventure and the Arctic but as an introduction to one of the most fascinating women of the nineteenth century.