Shipwreck at Cape Flora


The Expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England's Forgotten Arctic Explorer

P. J. Capelotti

Benjamin Leigh Smith discovered and named dozens of islands in the Arctic but published no account of his pioneering explorations. He refused public accolades and sent stand-ins to deliver the results of his work to scientific societies. Yet, the Royal Geographic Society's Sir Clements R. Markham referred to him as a polar explorer of the first rank.

Leigh Smith´s first Expedition, to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, resulted in 33 new place names and included the discovery of 22 new Islands. He even defined the northeast limits of Svalbard at what is know known as Cape Leigh Smith. His 1873 voyage came to the rescue of the experienced Swedish Explorer A.E. Nordenskiöld. But it is his spectacularly successful reconnaisance of Franz Josef Land in 1880 on board the research vessel Eira, which sank just off the icy shorelines, for which Leigh Smith is justly famed and which rivals the heroic voyages of Ernest Shackleton and Fridtjof Nansen.

Traveling to the Arctic islands that Leigh Smith explored and crisscrossing England to uncover unpublished journals, diaries, and photographs, archaeologist and writer P. J. Capelotti details Leigh Smith's five major Arctic expeditions to Svalbard and Franz Josef Land and places them within the context of the great polar explorations in the nineteenth century. The story he tells is all the more fascinating because it concerns a kind of anti-hero, Benjamin Leigh Smith, whose remarkable exploits in the Arctic are not well known beyond a small circle of specialist historians. A highly exciting read about a forgotten polar explorer and adventurer!


Shipwreck at Cape Flora
The Expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England's Forgotten Arctic Explorer

P.J. Capelotti
978-1-55238-705-4 (Paperback)
978-1-55238-713-9 (PDF)
978-1-55238-714-6 (ePub)
$39.95 CAD / $41.95 USD
300 pages
40 b&w illustrations
12 maps
notes, appendices, bibliography
Northern Lights
March 2013


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