Author(s): John Dunmore
Jules-Sebastien-Cesar Dumont D'Urville (1790-1842) undertook three global voyages of exploration and is the navigator who made the single greatest contribution to perfecting the map of the Pacific in the nineteenth century. Learned and energetic, he explored the Pacific from Guam to Antarctica, and from New Guinea to Chile, collecting a vast number of natural history specimens and recording extensive hydrographic information. His achievements brought him national recognition in the form of the Legion of Honour, while his scientific contributions earned him the gold medal of the Societe de Geographie. Yet despite his intelligence and expertise, D'Urville was not an easy or likeable man. A classic workaholic, he often seemed cold and aloof, yet he earned the respect of his men through his humane and fair leadership. Always sympathetic to the island people he met, he even wrote a novel about the New Zealand Maori. His detailed account of his final voyage, eagerly awaited by the public, had to be completed by others when he, his wife and son were tragically killed in a railway accident in 1842. First published August 2007.
Explorer, navigator, botanist, hydrographer, philologist and writer; Dumont d'Urville was gifted and his achievements were numerous. Yet like the statue of the Venus de Milo, which he helped to take to France, he was flawed. This first full biography in English reveals every facet of this complex man.