• Date & Time:

  • Location:

    The Royal Society of Edinburgh
    22-26 George Street
    EH2 2PQ

John Rae: Forgotten Hero of Arctic Exploration

This event has passed


Born in Orkney in 1813, John Rae grew up hunting and fishing. He trained in Edinburgh as a doctor, sailed with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and became an outstanding Arctic traveller. In 1854, Rae was mapping the Arctic coastline, slogging overland through snow and ice, when he discovered a strait that proved to be the final link in the Northwest Passage. Returning to camp, he encountered Inuit hunters who informed him that the long-lost, two-ship expedition of Sir John Franklin had ended in disaster and cannibalism. Rae acquired relics. He brought the tragic news to London, where his report scandalized Victorian England and prompted Charles Dickens to join Lady Franklin in a ferocious campaign to discredit him. Rae fought back, but historians and map-makers ignored his achievements, and he remained the only major explorer never to receive a knighthood.

Please view a selection of Ken McGoogan’s photographs.

Event media

Event report


Speaker: The award-winning author of ten books, Ken McGoogan