Voyages of James Cook

3 Dec, 2015 900 History

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the scientific advances made in the three voyages of Captain James Cook, from 1768 to 1779. Cook’s voyages astonished Europeans, bringing back detailed knowledge of the Pacific and its people, from the Antarctic to the Bering Straits. This topic is one of more than a thousand different ideas suggested by listeners in October and came from Alysoun Hodges in the UK, Fiachra O’Brolchain in Ireland, Mhairi Mackay in New Zealand, Enzo Vozzo in Australia, Jeff Radford in British Columbia and Mark Green in Alaska.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Simon Schaffer 25 episodes
    Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge
  • Rebekah Higgitt 2 episodes
    Lecturer in the History of Science at the University of Kent
  • Sophie Forgan No other episodes
    Retired Principle Lecturer at the University of Teesside

Reading list

  • The Life of Captain James Cook
    J. C. Beaglehole (Stanford University Press, 1974) Google Books →
  • The Journals of Captain Cook
    Captain James Cook (ed. Philip Edwards) (Penguin Classics, 1999) Google Books →
  • Finding Longitude: How clocks and stars helped solve the longitude problem
    Richard Dunn and Rebekah Higgitt (Collins, 2014) Google Books →
  • Sex, Botany and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks
    Patricia Fara (Icon Books Ltd, 2003) Google Books →
  • Captain Cook: Voyager Between Worlds
    John Gascoigne (Hambledon Continuum, 2007) Google Books →
  • Maskelyne: Astronomer Royal
    Rebekah Higgitt (Robert Hale Ltd, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas
    Anne Salmond (Allen Lane, 2003) Google Books →
  • Discoveries: the Voyages of Captain Cook
    Nicholas Thomas (Allen Lane, 2003) Google Books →
  • Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future
    Jenny Uglow (Faber and Faber, 2002) Google Books →
  • Captain Cook: Explorations and Reassessments
    Glyn Williams (ed) (Boydell Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Naturalists at Sea: From Dampier to Darwin
    Glyn Williams (Yale University Press, 2013)
  • Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens
    Andrea Wulf (Knopf Publishing Group, 2012) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 900 (History)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1768, a converted collier, Endeavour, set out from Plymouth bound for Tahiti in the Pacific, so that astronomers on board could observe the transit of Venus across the sun.