The voyages

Read about James Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific.

The first voyage of James Cook

Article by:
William Frame

William Frame, the British Library’s Head of Modern Archives and Manuscripts, gives an account of Cook’s first voyage of 1768-71. Cook was instructed to observe the transit of Venus. But his expedition also had a secret aim to find lands in the south Pacific.

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The second voyage of James Cook

Article by:
William Frame

William Frame, the British Library’s Head of Modern Archives and Manuscripts, gives an overview of the main events of Cook’s second voyage of 1772-75. It would prove to be one of the greatest voyages of all time, and included the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle.

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The third voyage of James Cook

Article by:
William Frame

William Frame, the British Library’s Head of Modern Archives and Manuscripts, describes Cook’s third voyage of 1776–80. The expedition’s aim was to find a passage from the North Pacific to the Atlantic. It was during this voyage that Cook was killed in Hawai’i.

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Tupaia the navigator, priest and artist

Article by:
Professor Dame Anne Salmond, Huw Rowlands

Dame Anne Salmond and Huw Rowlands discuss the impact of the navigator-priest Tupaia on the Endeavour voyage of James Cook.

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After Cook's voyages: the imperial legacy

Article by:
Glyn Williams

Professor Glyn Williams describes how Britain was quick to exploit the discoveries of Cook’s voyages.

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Further themes

People of the Pacific

Discover modern-day responses to the expeditions from people of the communities Cook encountered, documented and learned from.

The search for the Northwest Passage

Learn about the explorers – both before and after Cook – who ventured into the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, a navigable channel that was believed to connect the North Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

The voyages

Read about James Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific.