Culture Buff

A N Wilson and Resolution

10 June 2017

9:00 AM

10 June 2017

9:00 AM

A sold-out session at the Sydney Writers’ Festival was an indication of public interest in the writer, A. N. Wilson, and also in his new novel Resolution. A. N. Wilson is well-known to readers of this magazine, although he is writing less now for periodicals as he focuses on biographies and novels. This is a novel of a boy who sailed with Captain Cook on HMS Resolution on his second voyage of exploration to the Pacific including New Zealand, but not Australia. Cook also used the Resolution for his fatal third voyage. The boy in question is George Foster, who aged just 17, was engaged as botanical illustrator for the voyage along with his father, Reinhold Forster, the natural historian appointed in place of Joseph Banks who had become a grand celebrity after the Endeavour voyage.

The narrative is not linear, instead Wilson alternates episodes from the voyage with events in George’s later life which saw him moving in high circles, gratifyingly recognised for his scientific contributions, to its ultimately eventful conclusion in revolutionary Paris in 1793; an arc from the Resolution to the Revolution. George adored Cook in contrast to his irritation with his father, Reinhold. But he carried a sense of guilt that he had beaten Cook to the punch, publishing his hugely successful book A Voyage Round the World in His Britannic Majesty’s Sloop Resolution just weeks ahead of Cook’s. A. N. Wilson is a dashing novelist; he is also an excellent lecturer.

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