Irene A. Ellefsen: JENS MUNK. THE HUNT FOR THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE

Cover of "Jens Munk. The Hunt for the Northwest Passage"

Jens Munk. Jakten på Nordvestpassasjen
Published by Humanist Forlag, 2019

What could convince a human being to embark on a long sea journey to an unknown place without a definite map, with neither sufficient funds nor medicine, with navigational equipment that is more than 400 years old?

Jens Munk (1579 – 1628), the son of disgraced gentry, was a captain and a discoverer. He grew up in Agder, Fredrikstad and Ålborg, and had already undertook a solo journey to Brazil when he was only 13 years old. Later he moved to Copenhagen where he became a captain in King Christian VI’s fleet.

In 1619, Munk became the first Dano-Norwegian sea captain to attempt to find the Northwest Passage, with just two ships and a crew of 65 men. The expedition proved fatal. They were forced to spend the winter in Hudson Bay, where they suffered greatly from scurvy.

The story of Jens Munk stretches from Brazil to Novaya Semlya, from wartime to hunting pirates. Here you will find tales of shipwrecks, the history of early whale hunts, a family breakdown and secret agents. With the help of exciting facts, illustrations and emotive depictions of the environment, Irene A. Ellefsen sheds light on little-known life, not to mention its part in Norwegian history.

Irene A. Ellefsen (born 1979) is a cultural researcher and educator at the Østfold museum of Fredrikstad.