Famous explorers

Read about the daring exploits of some of history's bravest explorers. From the well-known endeavours of Scott, Shackleton, Columbus and Drake, to the lesser-known adventures of men like Magellan, Flinders and Cabot, we take you on a voyage of discovery.

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Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer, who made three expeditions to the continent, most famously in 1914 on the Endurance.

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In 1907, Ernest Shackleton embarked on an expedition to the South Pole aboard his ship Nimrod. He was almost successful, falling just 97 miles short.

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In the early 20th century the race was on to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott led the first British expedition.

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Sir John Franklin made three attempts to find the North-West Passage. His final voyage in 1845 in HMS Erebus and HMS Terror ended in tragedy for him and all his men, becoming the worst disaster in the history of British polar exploration. 

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William Edward Parry was a key figure in the discovery of the North-West Passage. He made three voyages to find it and his research was invaluable.

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Discover the hidden references to real polar exploration in Philip Pullman’s bestselling trilogy His Dark Materials.

'Endurance' (1912) in the ice

Follow the timeline of discovering Antarctica and the 'race' to the South Pole, from first sighting through to Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and more.

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No one before (and few since) rose so far and so fast from a simple rural background to national fame. Cook was marked for greatness from the outset.

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