Sunday, 8 August 2010

William (well, James Fitzjames really) hits the airwaves

I'm grateful to Howard Leader of BBC Radio Lincolnshire for having taken the trouble to read my book 'James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition' and then to discuss it with me live on his BBC radio programme today. Howard's programme is on the BBC website for another seven days and if you want to listen to it the link is at:

Howard's chat with me begins 1:13:45 in to the broadcast.

Howard broadcasts a weekly programme on Sunday afternoons on BBC Radio Lincolnshire from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm which is a mix of nostalgia, music from the '40's and '50's and interviews with special guests. Well, this afternoon I was his special guest. He asked me a series of informed and sensitive questions about James Fitzjames and the Franklin Expedition. This was my first radio interview and Howard was great - he made me feel quite relaxed.

It's been quite a big day for me and of course I'm pleased to have the exposure. It might sell a few more books. But for me Howard's interview has a much deeper significance. That's because I didn't write this book for me. I know this may sound ridiculous, but what compelled me to write about the Franklin Expedition and about James Fitzjames was a gut feeling that posterity has dealt the men of the Expedition, and Fitzjames in particular, a poor hand. Having read so many of their letters and the records relating to them, I now understand that these men were neither insensitive Imperialists on the one hand, nor selfless heroes on the other. Instead they were real people who set out to do an outlandish thing - to sail the Erebus and Terror through those ice-choked waterways. They failed, but if their guts could inspire and earn the respect of a man like Roald Amundsen, as it did, then I feel that people in their homeland and their adopted homeland Canada should respect them too.

Howard gave me an opportunity to talk in public about James Fitzjames the man, and that for me will always be a privilege.


  1. I've just finished listening to your interview, and it was great! You did very well, and Leader is a fine interviewer.

    --David Farmer

  2. Dear Mr. Battersby:

    Below you will find my Facebook comment you requested I add to your blog:

    I agree with you about the men of the Expedition receiving such little appreciation and sympathy.

    I may be one of the few to state that I was horrified when I read Dan Simmons' trash "The Terror". It made me angry to think that these brave 19th century men suffered horribly -- HORRIBLY -- and to have their tragedy turned into a ca$h cow from the mind of a PERVERTED and juvenile 21st century hack as he sits comfortably in his heated and, no doubt well-victualed home here in America is intolerable. I am sure none of us will ever have to face such unspeakable torments of mind, body and soul as they did.

    I don't know why I took this so personally, but having read some of the letters of the officers and crew it was obvious, whatever their personal faults and defects were, they were good, moral Christian men who believed in God and I do honestly pray, when I think of them, that God did in fact have mercy on their souls and who knows, in the last moments of their lives, He deigned to enlighten them on the purpose of their sufferings; for those of us Christians know that no suffering is truly without merit when accepted and offered in union with Christ's.

    Your Friend across The Water,


  3. I so, so agree with you. No-one can bring these poor chaps back to life, but I have found that by taking the troble to understand them and read what they left behind, it is possible to help the wider public understands them better.

    Russell Potter wrote a very interesting post relating to this here: