Sultan: a Franklin search dog in London

Sled dogs, Ilulissat. Copyright: Carsten Egevang. You can see more of his beautiful images here: https://www.carstenegevang.com

“Sultan was a splendid Esquimaux dog: King of the Pack. He saved the life of one of Ross’ seamen by his sagacity. He was not suitable for London!! & got me into trouble – so I sent him back.”

I’ve mentioned before that I love how John Barrow Junior annotated the Franklin search expedition paperwork that he catalogued for the Admiralty and his own Arctic papers, but this addition caught my eye like no other.

I knew about Sultan: he was the strongest and the bravest dog on Captain William Penny’s 1850-51 search for the Franklin Expedition. He was also the clumsiest and the most opinionated.

So what could have happened when this furry agent of chaos was catapulted headlong into the genteel London life of John Barrow Junior? I had to try to find out.

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Jane and Amélie: A portrait of two ladies

A composite image of two young women with soft curls. Both were drawn by Swiss artist Amelie Romilly in the early 19th Century. One is a portrait of Jane Griffin, the other a self-portrait.
Portrait of Jane Griffin by Amélie Romilly (1816), and a contemporary self-portrait by Amélie.

It was the scene of 24-year-old Jane Griffin’s first romance, and the occasion of her first extended trip outside England. It was exhilarating and stressful, not least because all of these new experiences had to be navigated in a second language. All she wanted to do was be left alone to read Byron and Goethe.

But then she met someone new.

This wasn’t a romance: it would prove to be much more important than that.

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