Why Bartlett?

My interest in Bartlett and the Arctic started when I was a nine year old on the rocky beach in Brigus, Newfoundland. Near where I played was a rusted monument depicting the sails of Captain Robert Abram Bartlett’s beloved schooner, the Effie Morrissey. Bartlett took her to the Arctic in many of his 50 trips there. The Effie Morrissey was built in 1894 for the schooner fishery of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and eventually sailed from Arctic to African waters in her long career. Today, she is the Ernestina and still much loved: http://www.ernestina.org/

Bob Bartlett was the eldest of the ten children of the formidable Captain William Bartlett and his intriguing wife Mary Jemima Leamon Bartlett. Mary Jemima originally wanted Bob to become a church minister but she reconciled herself to her son’s ambitions. She even created the Arctic Room in Bob’s honor in her Brigus home, Hawthorne Cottage, now a National Historic Site.

Captain Bob was an undiluted hero to those of us who grew up in Newfoundland and Labrador. He never really left my imagination. As an adult, I lived among the Inuit, as Bartlett had, and began to understand their perspectives on their land. In university I began to see masculinity as something promoted and created through, for instance, Arctic (and Antarctic) exploration. All this would help shape my forthcoming book about Bartlett.

Having been saturated in the lore about Bartlett the hero, I wanted to get to know Bartlett the man. Despite being a household name from London to San Francisco, Bartlett was notoriously private and elusive. He made getting to know him difficult but, thankfully, not impossible. I effectively lived with Bartlett for 13 years doing archival and other research in the United States, Britain, Canada, and Greenland and then writing the book: Unchained Man: The Arctic Life and Times of Captain Robert Abram Bartlett. I still like Bartlett but now I see him not as a god but as a fellow traveler. I am pleased to announce that Unchained Man can be pre-ordered through Boulder Publications.

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