Captain James Cook

From humble beginnings to national hero, Captain James Cook is one of history's best known and most controversial explorers. Read all about his life, from expertly charting the coasts of New Zealand and Australia and crossing the Antarctic Circle, to his fatal end in Hawaii.

Discover his story, and the legacy of his actions, in our Sackler Gallery: Pacific Encounters

Follow the key events in Captain Cook’s life of adventure from a simple start to global fame and a grizzly death.

Science and secret missions in the South Seas; innovations, discoveries and derring do. Cook’s first great voyage quickly became the stuff of legend.

Polite society was thrilling to the idea of an undiscovered continent in the south. Was it even there and what would count as proof if it didn’t exist?

While Cook fails to find the North-West Passage, it is his discovery of Hawaii that will prove to be his undoing.

Despite trailblazers like Captain Cook, the new techniques for navigation were slow to catch on.

The artist William Hodges accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage to the Pacific in 1772-74. 

Captain James Cook came out of retirement to look for the North-West Passage in 1776. It was to be his last expedition and he never returned home.

When Captain Cook returned from his first voyage he brought with him the term ‘tattoo’ if not the practice itself.

William Bligh was an officer in the Royal Navy and was the victim of a mutiny on his ship, the Bounty, in 1789.

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