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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Jane’s conviction

When her husband disappeared, seemingly without trace, on his fourth expedition to the Arctic, Jane Franklin devoted herself to establishing the truth about his fate – and restoring his hero status.

1Jane Franklin, c. 1866-75 an unknown artist after Thomas Bock. 2Sir John Franklin, c.1846 Theresa Walker after David D'Angers.

Some wonder why Jane Griffin married John Franklin. She’d no shortage of suitors, and he, though a celebrated Arctic explorer and thoroughly honourable chap, was neither rich nor the type over which women ordinarily swooned. That said, Jane wasn’t conventional marriage material herself. She was 36, childless, well-read, well-travelled and opinionated. Indeed, during their time in Van Diemen’s Land (1837 to 1843), where John served as the colony’s lieutenant-governor, Jane was ridiculed by vacuous locals for her interest in ‘unladylike’ matters. In 1845 John departed on another Arctic expedition, from which he never returned. Jane led the campaign to find him, funding search expeditions herself and becoming as much an authority on Arctic geography as any of the Admiralty’s men. Her unwavering devotion to John’s memory eventually helped dissolve disapproval of her verve and independence. Some now say that the disappearance of John Franklin’s final expedition did more for knowledge of the Arctic than its success might ever have done.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.