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Join Michael Palin – former Monty Python stalwart and much-loved television globe-trotter – as he brings to life the world and voyages of HMS Erebus. 

In this illustrated talk, Michael Palin will chart the ship’s history from its construction in the naval dockyards of Pembroke, to the part it played in Ross’s Antarctic expedition of 1839–43, to its abandonment during Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition, and to its final rediscovery on the seabed in Queen Maud Gulf in 2014.

He will explore the intertwined careers of the men who shared its journeys: the organisational genius James Clark Ross, who mapped much of the Antarctic coastline and oversaw some of the earliest scientific experiments to be conducted there; and the troubled Sir John Franklin, who, at the age of 60 and after a chequered career, commanded the ship on its final journey. And he’ll describe what life on board was like for the dozens of men who stepped ashore in Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and for the officers and crew who, one by one, froze and starved to death in the Arctic wastes as rescue missions desperately tried to track them down.

To research this story, Michael Palin travelled to various locations across the world – Tasmania, the Falklands, the Canadian Arctic – searching for local information, and experiencing at first hand the terrain and the conditions that would have confronted the Erebus and her crew.

This is a wonderful opportunity to spend an evening with a master explorer and storyteller, as he tells his story of a ship on the publication day of his new book Erebus.

 
  • Erebus: The Story of a Ship

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    BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
    THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
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    HMS Erebus was one of the great exploring ships, a veteran of groundbreaking expeditions to the ends of the Earth.

    In 1848, it disappeared in the Arctic, its fate a mystery. In 2014, it was found.

    This is its story.
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    ‘Beyond terrific. I didn’t want it to end.’ – Bill Bryson
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    Michael Palin – Monty Python star and television globetrotter – brings the remarkable Erebus back to life, following it from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic.

    The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the ‘Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus's final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn't shooting the local wildlife dead.

    Vividly recounting the experiences of the men who first set foot on Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and those who, just a few years later, froze to death one by one in the Arctic ice, beyond the reach of desperate rescue missions, Erebus is a wonderfully evocative account of a truly extraordinary adventure, brought to life by a master explorer and storyteller.
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    ‘Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.’ – Sunday Times

    ‘This is an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. The Erebus story is the Arctic epic we’ve all been waiting for.’ – Nicholas Crane

    ‘Palin is a superb stylist, low-key and conversational, who skillfully incorporates personal experience. He turns up obscure facts, reanimates essential moments, and never shies away from taking controversial positions. This beautifully produced volume – colour plates, outstanding maps – is a landmark achievement.’ – Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage

    ‘I absolutely loved it: I had to read it at one sitting . . . Fascinating.’ – Lorraine Kelly, ITV Lorraine

    ‘Magisterial . . . Brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.’ – The Times

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