The Story of Captain Cook: a souvenir guide.  Sophie Forgan. 2013

The Story of Captain Cook: a souvenir guide. Sophie Forgan. 2013

Forgan, Sophie. 

The Story of Captain Cook: a souvenir guide
Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby. 
ISBN 978-1-907750-51-9. 
48 pages. 

The souvenir guide to Whitby’s Captain Cook Memorial Museum is designed to acquaint visitors with the life of Captain Cook illustrated by the museum’s collection.


Following an introduction, the guide is divided into sixteen sections. 


The first sections cover Cook’s family background, with a very useful timeline marking significant events in his life.  There are parts covering Whitby and its ships, Quakers in Whitby, and John Walker’s house on Grape Lane that now serves as the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.  Segments then follow on James Cook’s service as an apprentice seaman, and his early Royal Navy years.


The guide contains entries on the voyages of exploration, accompanied by an excellent map of the three voyages, as well as other maps associated with exploration.  A portion of the text and images focuses on navigation and the calculation of longitude, Admiralty instructions for the voyages, and life aboard a Whitby ship.


The book contains sections on people encountered during Cook’s voyages, as well as the scientific aspect of the voyages of exploration.  Cook’s crossings of the Antarctic and Arctic Circles are included, as is his death in Hawai`i.


The final section of the book deals with Cook’s legacies in terms of journals, maps, artefacts, the health of sailors, other explorers who sailed with Cook, and how his voyages delineated the map of the Pacific Ocean.


The guide contains a pleasing balance of text and images.  It is lavishly illustrated with excellent maps, photographs, paintings, and images of artefacts, which are printed in colour.  There are quotations by Cook from his journals and letters, as well as by those who knew him, or who studied his voyages.  Some of the paintings are by artists that sailed with Cook such as William Hodges and John Webber.


Sophie Forgan, Chairperson of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, admirably contributed a lively text for the souvenir guide, which is written at a level to be appreciated by any reader or visitor to the museum.  The guide’s cover depicts Cook’s statute at Whitby overlooking the River Esk as it enters the North Sea and, in the distance, the ruins of Whitby Abbey on Whitby’s East Cliff.


This reviewer visited the Captain Cook Memorial Museum on two occasions in 2011.  I found the museum’s collections to be well laid out for visitors, from the introductory maps and information as the visitor enters the facility, through the various floors of the museum, to the attic in which Captain Cook resided while working as a merchant seaman for the John Walker family, 1746-1755. 


The souvenir guide is an excellent acquisition for any visitor to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.



James C. Hamilton

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 25, volume 38, number 1 (2015).

Leave a comment

your email address will not be published

Thank you for your response. It will be evaluated by a moderator and published.