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BACK, George.

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.

London, John Murray, 1836 Stock Code: 40110
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First edition. Back had previously gained considerable experience as an arctic explorer through his participation in the abortive Buchan expedition and Franklin's two overland expeditions. Back was "one of the first competent artists to penetrate into the Canadian Arctic"; the many water-colours and drawings which he produced and which enhance his narratives and those of Franklin "are now considered an invaluable record of early northern history" DCB. Although Back was highly valued by the British Admiralty, he was not a popular personality and he developed a fairly controversial reputation as a dandy, womaniser and hopeless egocentric.
The privately financed, government-assisted expedition described in this narrative was undertaken in 1833, for the purpose of aiding members of the Second Ross expedition, from whom no one had heard since 1828. They were also to conduct scientific investigations and a geographical survey of an unknown section of arctic coast. They travelled overland from Montreal to Slave River and Great Slave Lake, and descended the Thleweechodozeth or Great Fish River (later renamed the Black River) to the arctic coast, thence along Chanttrey Inlet to Ogle Point. "The ice prevented Back's proposed survey of the coast, and after again wintering at Fort Reliance he reached La Chêne, the Hudson Bay station where he had started over two years before, in August 1835, having travelled 7500 miles, including 1200 of discovery. Besides his discovery of a river over 440 miles long, he had made important observations of the Aurora Borealis, and had given the name of Montreal to an island afterwards sadly familiar in connection with the fate of Franklin. In September 1835 Back reached England, and received a hero's welcome. He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's gold medal, and was promoted by the Admiralty to the rank of captain on 30 September 1835, by order in councilan honour that no other officer in the navy had received except William IV." ODNB
"... now regarded as one of the finest travel books of the nineteenth century." Howgego

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Octavo. An ex-library copy, bookplate to front pastedown, small stamp verso of title, gilt ink accession number to the spine only, neatly recased in the original brown diapered cloth, new endpapers, title gilt to spine within gilt panel.


Lithographic frontispiece and 15 other plates, folding map at the rear, tables to the text.


Plates somewhat browned, map torn without loss, a little shaken, cloth slightly rubbed and sunned at the spine, a very good copy.


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