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The Frozen Deep

The Frozen Deep

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This novel was loosely inspired by the loss of Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition of 1845, in which Charles Dickens had taken a great interest. Specifically, in the fall of 1854, when the Hudson's Bay Company surveyor Dr. John Rae brought back Inuit reports of cannibalism among Franklin's men, Dickens was so perturbed that he launched a debate with Rae in the pages of his own periodical, Household Words. By 1856, however, it became increasingly clear that there were no survivors. It was in this context that, in the spring of 1856, Dickens and Collins conceived of a play set in the Arctic. The task of writing the play itself fell to Collins, since Dickens was still busily engaged with Little Dorritt, but nevertheless he found time to make numerous revisions to the eventual script. That play was rewritten by Wilkie Collins as this novel.