Franklin Fiction List

A Bibliography of major literary treatments
of the Franklin expedition
compiled by Russell A. Potter

1. "Seldon, William N." The extraordinary and all-absorbing journal of Wm. N. Seldon one of a party of three men who belonged to the exploring expedition of Sir John Franklin, and who left the ship Terror, frozen up in ice, in the Arctic ocean, on the 10th day of June, 1850 ... together with an account of the discovery of new and beautiful country, inhabited by a strange race of people ... (Detroit, Mich.: E.E. Barclay, 1851)
2. Verne, Jules, The English at the Pole. By Jules Verne. London and New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1875.

3. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. London, 1902. Said to be in part inspired by Conrad's youthful interest in the Franklin saga; contains an allusion to Franklin and other "knights-errant of the sea." See his essay "Geography and Some Explorers"
4. Oxley, James Macdonald. North overland with Franklin. (London: Musson, N.D.)
5. Cato, Nancy. North-West by south. London : Heinemann, 1965. This novel by an Australian writer centers on Franklin's years as Governor of Tasmania.
6. Tapley, Caroline. John come down the backstay. (New York: Atheneum,1974).
7. Godfrey, Martyn. Mystery in the frozen lands. (Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1988)
8. Richler, Mordecai. Solomon Gursky Was Here. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. A Franklin twist, with a dash of Owen Beattie -- another frozen body from the Franklin expedition is discovered -- and this one is an Orthdox Jew! Richler explains the how and why in this mythic mock-epic.
9. Edric, Robert. The Broken Lands. (London: J. Cape, 1992; New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002).
10. Vollmann, William T. The Rifles. New York: Viking Books, 1994. Book Six of Vollmann's ambitious "Seven Dreams" novel series, this tale interweaves a retelling of the Franklin disaster with contemporary events and Inuit history, including the story of the RCMP's relocation of the "High Arctic Exiles."
11. Wiebe, Rudy. A Discovery of Strangers. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1994. Wiebe takes a novelist's look at Franklin's first land expedition, in a meticulously researched and lyrically retold version that brings the history of the Dene people into the foreground.
12. Wilson, John. Across Frozen Seas. Beach Holme Books, 1997 (young adult novel)
13. Nadolny, Sten. The Discovery of Slowness. NY: Penguin Books, 1997 (repr. of 1987 Viking edition, translated by Ralph Freeman; originally published as Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit in 1983).
14. Hopkins, Brian A., Cold at Heart. Starlance Publications, 1998.
15. Barrett, Andrea. The Voyage of the Narwhal. W.W. Norton, 1998.

16. Wilson, John. North With Franklin: The Journal of James Fitzjames Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1999.
17. McGregor, Elizabeth. The Ice Child. New York: Dutton,2001.
18. Simpson, Lindsay. The Curer of Souls. Random House Australia, 2006.
19. Hieghton, Steven. Afterlands. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. This novel, loosely based on the Polaris expedition, has been praised by Kenn Harper, who wrote "The Polaris story lay untouched for over a century until a few years ago, fertile ground for historians and novelists. This is by far the most compelling treatment of it to date."
20. Simmons, Dan. The Terror. Boston: Little, Brown, 2007.
21. Flanagan, Richard. Wanting. Random House Australia, 2008; Atlantic Monthly Press, 2009.
22. Cussler, Clive. Arctic Drift (A Dirk Pitt Novel, #20). New York: Putnam, 2008.
23. Fortier, Dominique. De Bon Usage des Étoiles. Montréal: Alto: 2008. Published in English as On the Proper Use of Stars by McClelland and Stewart in 2010.

24. O'Loughlin, Ed. Minds of Winter. London: riverrun, 2016.


  1. Nice list, But, you're forgetting 24. The White Passage. ;) Just a friendly reminder.

  2. Dear Michael Palin. I just finished reading your book, Erebus: one ship, two epic voyages and Greatest naval mystery. I throughly enjoyed reading. Well done. I live in Western Canada so I am very aware of Sir Franklin and the NW Passage. The history, story and tragic event has always seemed like an CDN story and history to me as I grew up. We know it well. I’m glad to have read that you inserted Stan Rogers versus in the last chapter. My wife , Clare, from Warrington UK, bought me your book on Christmas 2019. I was sad to read that you did not make it to Erebus and Terror sites. I hope you make it there someday; as do I hope to be there as well. Take care, from Steven Deugau.