Now Associate Dean of Arts and Associate Professor, Distance Learning Coordinator, at the Royal Military College of Canada, Erika Behrisch Elce lived in Alaska until the age of 12. Given that background, perhaps it’s not surprising she decided to study 19th-century polar exploration professionally.
Erika originally came to Kingston to go graduate work at Queen’s University. “I chose the study of literature as a vocation because I am at heart very nosy,” she says. “English Literature, so full of opinions, hidden agendas, unintentional revelations, and cultural complexity, offered what was in my mind the richest study of culture higher education could afford.”
Erika’s novel, Lady Franklin of Russell Square, was described by Helen Humphreys as “[a]n original and provocative exploration of John Franklin’s doomed Arctic odyssey from the perspective of Lady Franklin…a captivating tale of transformation.”
Erika draws on nineteenth-century naval surgeons’ journals to explore “the tales that don’t make the history books: the smell of the lower decks, the effects of quack medicines, the crews’ rowdy onshore adventures, and the heavy toll a life at sea takes on the sailor’s body.” These details give her narrative a sharp immediacy that brings her tale to vibrant life.