Yesterday, prompted by the arrival by post of the annual report of the Frederick A. Cook Society and then by coincidence in the evening I was viewing the comedian Billy Connolly’s documentary of his visit to the spectacular Canadian High Arctic.
When I visited the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge UK some years ago I spoke to one of the curators and expressed an interest in Frederick A.Cook. The curator was of the opinion that the Cook controversy was not something likely to be gaining more support for Cook. Nevertheless I have maintained my interest and reading on the subject over the years. The latest Cook Society journal records new acceptance of Cook’s prior claim as “discoverer of the North Pole” on 21 April 1908. Most atlases and biographies show Robert Edwin Peary as claiming the discovery on 6 April 1909 almost a year later than Cook had claimed. Cook's journey home took much longer, so that the two explorers reached the news services almost simultaneously. Peary was beside himself with anger having staked all his reputation on being first to the “Big Nail” and managed to denounce Cook’s claim with the backing of the press. Much more eloquent writers than I, have chronicled the ensuing media battles and the subsequent majority opinion for Peary that prevailed throughout the remaining decades of the 20th Century.
Now it appears that Cook’s claim has been gaining support while Peary’s claim is suspect because inter alia, his recorded sledge mileages for his return to his ship were deemed impossible to have been achieved. See Wally Herbert’s Noose of Laurels London 1989.