Review: Merchant Adventurers by James Evans

This review appears in the current December/January issue of  Management Today. The recent media coverage of the discovery of Sir John Franklin’s flagship, the HMS Erebus, on the sea floor in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is a reminder of the public’s abiding fascination with the Age of Exploration and of its huge cost, in terms … Continue reading Review: Merchant Adventurers by James Evans

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History Today column: Lost in translation

We are all familiar with the opening life of LP Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” Like all elegantly expressed truths it quickly became a cliché. And, as such, like all clichés, it obscures as much as it reveals. It is difficult not to look … Continue reading History Today column: Lost in translation

North, a film by Temujin Doran

Film-maker Temujin Doran contacted me in the summer of 2010 with the intention of making a film based on The Balloonist’s Tale in my book Impossible Journeys, which recounted the failed 1897 attempt by Salomon August Andrée to reach the North Pole by hot air balloon. In the end, Doran decided to make a different … Continue reading North, a film by Temujin Doran

Sir Walter Ralegh’s final voyage to El Dorado

Despite the great and humiliating failure of his 1595 voyage of exploration and conquest to El Dorado, the legendary golden city at the head of the Orinoco River in what is now Venezuela, Ralegh never abandoned his faith in his vision. He may, perhaps, have privately doubted the existence of the golden city; he never … Continue reading Sir Walter Ralegh’s final voyage to El Dorado

Sir Walter Ralegh writing to his wife on the death of their son

I have blogged here about Ralegh's disastrous return to El Dorado in 1617-18. Aside from the failure to find gold – a failure that Ralegh must have known might at best find him returned to the Tower of London when he returned home, and at worst cost him his head – he lost his young … Continue reading Sir Walter Ralegh writing to his wife on the death of their son

The unstable sea and its secret sources: an 11th-century voyage of discovery

A few years ago I wrote a book called Impossible Journeys, which was a collection of travellers tales about journeys to places which do not exist. Some of those places are relatively well known; indeed El Dorado has passed into the language as the very definition of a chimeric destination. Others, such as Norumbega and … Continue reading The unstable sea and its secret sources: an 11th-century voyage of discovery