Polar Record


Benjamin Leigh Smith's first Arctic expedition: Svalbard, 1871

P. J. Capelotti a1
a1 Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Penn State University, Abington College, Abington, PA 09001, USA (pjc12@psu.edu)

Article author query
capelotti pj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Despite five difficult and distinguished scientific expeditions to Svalbard and Franz Josef Land between 1871 and 1882, the British yachtsman and explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith published no detailed account of his expeditions. Best known for a dramatic shipwreck at Cape Flora in Franz Josef Land in 1881, his early work in Svalbard — particularly his first effort when he developed the Arctic voyaging and scientific techniques he would employ on his subsequent expeditions — has received scant attention. In the summer of 1871, Leigh Smith launched the first of three consecutive annual geographic and oceanographic explorations of Svalbard. His unpublished 1871 journal details his growing appreciation of and expertise in the European high Arctic; corrects misstatements in later accounts of this first effort; details his exploration of Hinlopenstretet and the discovery and naming of Brochøya, Foynøya, and 31 other points in northeast Svalbard; and offers glimpses of an explorer who kept his personality well-hidden behind pioneering oceanographic and geographic observations of Svalbard and its surrounding seas.

(Published Online January 18 2006)
(Received July 2005)