Some time ago Partner and I watched the first season of an Amazon Prime series called The Terror. It was about the Franklin Expedition that tried to find a north-west passage to the Pacific from England in the 19th century. It was lost with all hands. The series was called after one of the two ships, the Terror (the other ship was called Erebus). The series was also called The Terror because the expedition was haunted (in the series) by blood-curdling inexplicable misfortune (not being clearer so as not to give anything away).
We really enjoyed the series, but of course lots of it was fantastical. For instance, all those sailors and their officers and the captain had a dress-up party, where they all showed up in drag and a lot of fun was had (until the tragic end). I thought this was made-up. Who goes on a dangerous expedition and brings along women’s clothes and other costumes to have dress-up parties on the frozen North Sea? Boggles the mind, right?
Well, I got the book Erebus, by Michael Palin for my birthday from Partner (I wrote about this book before on the blog) and it turns out that this is actually taken from real life. Before the ill-fated expedition to find the north-west passage, the Erebus was on an expedition to get as far south as possible and they had these types of shenanigans to keep up morale.
Life is stranger than fiction.
I do recommend both the series and the book; they complement each other nicely: fiction and fact. There’s a lot that’s been researched and found out about the lost Franklin expedition and the history of the Antarctic expedition that preceded it was very interesting too (like the dress-up parties on the ice). The wrecks of both the ships Terror and Erebus have been found in the meantime. It’s all quite fascinating.