Franklin’s First Wife

In recent years, the Record Office in Derbyshire, England has been cataloguing a treasure trove of Franklin letters. Of particular interest have been the correspondence of the talented and fascinating Eleanor Anne Porden, Franklin’s first wife and mother to Eleanor Isabella Franklin, Franklin’s only child. Eleanor Isabella married into Derbyshire’s Gell family, hence the reason why such historically compelling materials were deposited in local rather than national archives.

Eleanor Anne Porden sadly died of tuberculosis shortly after Franklin’s departure for Canada on his second and far more successful expedition to the Arctic Coast. If she had lived longer, she would have probably matured into one of England’s most eminent women of letters. Her intense romantic ideals are on full display in her own Valentine’s Day 1823 poem to Franklin, assuming the identity of a forlorn Greenstockings (!), pining for her English lover.

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Header photo: Portrait of Eleanor Anne Porden, by Mary Ann Flaxman