Biography

Admiral Sir George Back was born on November 6, 1796 in Stockport, Cheshire, England, the second son of Ann and John Back. He was educated at Shaw's Grammar School in Stockport, and was a prisoner of war until the age of 18. He joined HMS Trent as midshipman under Lieutenant John Franklin on an exploration of Spitsbergen trying to find a passage over the North Pole to the Orient. Back was artist midshipman on Franklin's fateful first Arctic Land Expedition in 1819-1821 and again went with Franklin on the second Arctic Land Expedition in 1825-1827. He made the first descent of the Great Fish River, later named the Back River. Back was knighted on March 18, 1839. He married Theodosia Elizabeth Hammond on October 13, 1846 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1847. He retired as an admiral in 1876 and died on June 23, 1878 in London at the age of 82.

Peter Steele

See also Parry, Sir William Edward

Further Reading

Back, George, The Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of the Great Fish River 1833-35, London: John Murray, 1836

-, Narrative of an Expedition in H.M.S. Terror Undertaken with a View to Geographical Discovery on the Arctic Shores in the Years 1836-37, London: John Murray, 1838 Berton, Pierre, The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909, New York: Penguin, 1988

Fleming, Fergus, Barrow's Boys, London: Granta Books, 1998 Houston, C. Stuart (editor), Arctic Artist: The Journal and Paintings of George Back, Midshipman with Franklin, 1819-1822, Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994 MacLaren, I.S., George Back; Profiles in Canadian Literature, edited by Jeffrey Heath, Toronto: Dudurn Press, 1991

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