The Cold, Cold War

Throughout the 19th century, rival nations battled to conquer the poles. One explorer set out to establish an Arctic colony – or to get rich trying.

Explorer Robert E. Peary and husky aboard the Roosevelt, c.1909.
Explorer Robert E. Peary and husky aboard the Roosevelt, c.1909 © Archive Pics/Alamy Stock Photo.

In 325 BC, the Greek explorer Pytheas attempted to sail to the frozen north, a place that he called Thule. He reached Brittany, then Cornwall, eventually travelling past the northernmost tip of the British Isles. After six days of sailing, Pytheas hit land at the edge of a frozen sea. For more than 2,000 years, this place and its frozen waters lured kings, queens, merchants, warriors and explorers. By the 19th century, it was all anybody could talk about.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.