William Scoresby bigraphy, stories - English Arctic explorer, scientist and clergyman

William Scoresby : biography

5 October 1789 - 21 March 1857

William Scoresby (5 October 1789 – 21 March 1857), was an English Arctic explorer, scientist and clergyman.

Early years

Scoresby was born in the village of Cropton near Pickering 26 miles south of Whitby in Yorkshire. His father, William Scoresby Senior (1760–1829), made a fortune in the Arctic whale fishery and was also the inventor of the barrel crow's nest. The son made his first voyage with his father at the age of eleven, but then returned to school, where he remained until 1803. After this he became his father's constant companion, and accompanied him as chief officer of the whaler Resolution when on 25 May 1806, he succeeded in reaching 81°30’ N. lat. (19° E. long), for twenty-one years the highest northern latitude attained in the eastern hemisphere. During the following winter, Scoresby attended the natural philosophy and chemistry classes at Edinburgh University, and again in 1809.

References in literature

Herman Melville's main character Ishmael quotes Scoresby in the Cetology chapter of Moby-Dick: "'No branch of Zoology is so much involved as that which is entitled Cetology,' says Captain Scoresby, A.D. 1820."Melville, Herman: , page 164. Read Books, 2008 ISBN 1-4097-6485-0. Orig. 1851.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy features a character named Lee Scoresby, an intrepid explorer, old Arctic hand, and balloon aeronaut. Pullman has stated that the character was named after William Scoresby and Lee Van Cleef."I took the Scoresby part of his name from the Arctic explorer William Scoresby, and the Lee from Lee Van Cleef the actor." http://www.philip-pullman.com/q_a.asp Accessed August 21, 20 William Scoresby also had a habit of making polar bears pets for friends.Fergus Flemming , Grove Press, 2001, p. 31 ISBN 0-8021-3794-6

H. P. Lovecraft refers to William Scoresby's illustrations when describing an Antarctic mirage in the story 'At The Mountains Of Madness'"At The Mountains Of Madness", H P Lovecraft, 1936 ISBN 0-8129-7441-7

Julian Barnes references William Scoresby in his postmodern novel "Flaubert's Parrot" that reads like a literary criticism. In the fourth chapter where the author is discussing what kind of bear Flaubert thought himself to be, he states that William Scoresby claimed the liver of the polar bear to be poisonous. Barnes, Julian. "Flaubert's Parrot". Vintage. 1984. ISBN0679731369


Scoresby married three times. After his third marriage (1849), he built a villa at Torquay, where he was appointed honorary lecturer at the Parish church of St Mary Magdalene, Upton. He died at Torquay on 21 March 1857. He is commemorated by a memorial in Upton church, which is decorated with mariner's compass and dividers, and a bible.Information from Memorial, Upton Parish Church


In his voyage of 1807, Scoresby began the study of the meteorology and natural history of the polar regions. Earlier results included his original observations on snow and crystals; and in 1809 Robert Jameson brought certain Arctic papers of his before the Wernerian Society of Edinburgh, which at once elected him to its membership.

In 1811, Scoresby's father resigned to him the command of the Resolution. In the same year he married the daughter of a Whitby shipbroker. In his voyage of 1813, he established for the first time the fact that the polar ocean has a warmer temperature at considerable depths than it has on the surface, and each subsequent voyage in search of whales found him no less eager of fresh additions to scientific knowledge. His letters of this period to Sir Joseph Banks, whose acquaintance he had made a few years earlier, no doubt gave the first impulse to the search for the North-West Passage which followed. On 29 June 1816, commanding the Esk on his fifteenth whaling voyage from Whitby, Scoresby encountered grave problems when ice damaged his ship. With the aid of his brother-in-law's crew on board the John, and after agreeing to surrendering much of their catch, the Esk was repaired, of which Scoresby recounted in his 1820 book The Northern Whale-Fishery.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine