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The Ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian Lady Adventurer

Biography / Memoir
  • Winner of the 2014 National Biography Award

By: Alison Alexander(Author)

306 pages, 12 plates with b/w photos and b/w illustrations; b/w illustrations

Allen & Unwin

Paperback | Oct 2016 | #231330 | ISBN-13: 9781760292546
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £17.99 $23/€20 approx

About this book

In a period when most ladies sat at home with their embroidery, Jane Franklin achieved fame throughout the western world, and was probably the best travelled woman of her day. Alison Alexander traces the life of this inimitable woman, from her birth in late eighteenth-century London, her marriage to Sir John Franklin, the famous Arctic explorer, and her many trips to far-flung locations. Arriving in Tasmania, Australia, in 1837 when Sir John became governor, she swept like a whirlwind through the colony: attempting to rid the island of snakes; establishing a scientific society; adopting an Aboriginal girl, and sending a kangaroo to Queen Victoria. When her husband disappeared in the Arctic on an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage, she single-handedly turned him from a failure into one of England's noblest heroes. She continued travelling well into her 70s and died at age 84, refusing to take her medicine to the last.

"An engrossing biography of a fascinating and fearless modern woman."
– Professor Marilyn Lake, La Trobe University



Chapter 1 A girl who did not fit in
Chapter 2 The Franklin connection
Chapter 3 An occasional marriage
Chapter 4 To Van Diemen's Land
Chapter 5 The governor's lady
Chapter 6 The home front
Chapter 7 Female convicts
Chapter 8 Improving the colony
Chapter 9 The Aborigines
Chapter 10 Mount Wellington, Sydney and beyond
Chapter 11 Three women's lives
Chapter 12 The political question
Chapter 13 Jane Franklin v. John Montagu
Chapter 14 John Franklin disappears
Chapter 15 Jane Franklin's Search
Chapter 16 Family upsets
Chapter 17 Victory


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Alison Alexander is one of Tasmania's best-known historians, and author of Tasmania's Convicts.

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