Lady Lucy Barry and Evangelical Reading on the First Franklin Expedition


  • Janice Cavell



Sir John Franklin, Arctic expeditions, books and reading, religion, evangelicalism


This article examines the relationship between Lady Lucy Barry and John Franklin. Barry has been dismissed by other writers as a fanatic who had only a passing influence on the explorer’s religious beliefs. Though their friendship ended after Franklin’s marriage to Eleanor Porden in August 1823, Barry’s Evangelical faith, as expressed through the books she presented to the members of the first Franklin expedition, had already shaped both Franklin’s own understanding of his Arctic experiences and the literary representation of them in his Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the Years 1819, 20, 21, and 22. In the narrative, both Franklin and his companion John Richardson affirmed the great value of religious books and practices in helping them to endure the sufferings of the journey. As a result, the public came to revere Arctic explorers as Christian heroes. Without Lady Lucy Barry and her books, Arctic exploration might never have come to hold such an important place in 19th-century British culture.