Toronto, Canada. February 6, 2017. Anne Collins, Publisher, Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group, has acquired Canadian rights to a new account by Michael Palin of one of the world’s greatest maritime adventures.
In his major new work, Michael Palin – former Monty Python stalwart and much-loved television globe-trotter – will bring to life the world and voyages of HMS Erebus, from its construction in the naval dockyards of Pembroke, to the part it played in James Clark Ross’s Antarctic expedition of 1839–43, to its abandonment during Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition, and to its final rediscovery on the seabed in Queen Maud Gulf in 2014. He will explore the intertwined careers of the men who shared its journeys: the organisational genius Ross, who mapped much of the Antarctic coastline and oversaw some of the earliest scientific experiments to be conducted there; and the troubled Franklin, who, at the age of 60 and after a chequered career, commanded the ship on its final journey. And he will describe what life on board was like for the dozens of men who stepped ashore in Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and for the officers and crew who froze and starved to death in the Arctic wastes, driven to cannibalism and poisoned by the food they had hoped would sustain them.
To help tell the story, he will be travelling to various locations across the world, including the Canadian Arctic, as well as Tasmania and the Falklands, to search for local information, and to experience at first hand the terrain and the conditions that would have confronted the Erebus and her crew.
Illustrated with maps, paintings and engravings, this will be a wonderfully evocative and epic account, written by a master explorer and storyteller.
Michael Palin says: “HMS Erebus was the flagship on two of the most significant maritime journeys in our history. One reached the furthest south any ship had ever been, the other met with disaster in the search for the Northwest Passage. Both journeys took enormous risks to challenge the perception of what was possible at the time. The discovery of HMS Erebus beneath the waters of the Canadian Arctic just two and a half years ago adds yet another twist to this extraordinary story. It’s a story of courage and folly, of staggering success and terrible suffering. A story motivated by a refusal to accept that there should be such a thing as the Unknown.’
Anne Collins says: “I can’t wait to see the epic story of Erebus told through Michael Palin’s eyes. Palin’s curiosity and story-telling gifts are a perfect match for a maritime adventure as stirring as it was tragic. We usually think of the ill-fated ship as part of the narrative of the Canadian north, but Palin will bring us the entire history, all the unique characters and the global context.”
Random House Canada will publish Erebus in September 2018.
Rights were acquired from Susan Sandon and Nigel Wilcockson of Random House Books in the UK, who bought the book from Steve Abbott at Mayday Management.
About the author
Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes and films, from Monty Python and Ripping Yarns to The Missionary and American Friends. He has also made several much-acclaimed travel documentaries, his journeys taking him to the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and Brazil. His books include accounts of his journeys, novels (Hemingway’s Chair and The Truth) and several volumes of diaries. From 2009 to 2012 he was president of the Royal Geographical Society, and in 2013 he was made a BAFTA fellow.
Random House Canada is an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, the Canadian division of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, which is dedicated to its mission of nourishing a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company, which employs more than 10,000 people globally, was formed on July 1, 2013 by Bertelsmann and Pearson, who own 53 percent and 47 percent, respectively. With nearly 250 independent imprints and brands on five continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital English- and Spanish- language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide.
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