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Reproduced courtesy of Frances Rouse

Costume design for Elizabeth Cook, 'Cross Antarctic Circle'

Date: 1985
Overall: 695 x 395 mm, 3.1 kg
Medium: Gouache on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Frances Rouse
Object Name: Costume design
Object No: 00004247

User Terms

    This costume was designed for the play 'Counting Icebergs', about the life of Captain James Cook's wife, Elizabeth. The teal blue gown has a globe with the Antarctic Circle on the front with the date 3 February 1774. This dress was designed for Elizabeth to reflect the ten years after she married Captain James Cook when he was in command of HMS RESOLUTION and became the first navigator to cross the Antarctic Circle. On 3 February 1774 Cook undertook his third and most southerly breach into the Antarctic.
    SignificanceThis costume was designed for a modern play and represents Cook's exploration in Antarctic waters in 1774 as a feature on his wife's dress.
    HistoryFrances Rouse is a Queensland-based playwright who began researching and writing the stage play 'Counting Icebergs' in 1984. It was commissioned by the Australian National Trust, Queensland for the reopening of the James Cook Museum in Cooktown. Rouse was inspired by the limited material available on Elizabeth Cook and the story of her lonely life as a widow, outliving all her children to the age of 94. Rouse's series of paintings 'The Charts of Mrs Cook' are in her own words 'my tribute to her great spirit'.

    Very little is known of Elizabeth Cook, the wife of the famous English explorer Captain James Cook. She was born Elizabeth Batts at Wapping, London in 1741, the only child of Samuel and Mary Batts, and married James Cook at St Margaret’s Church, Barking on 21 December 1762. It is believed they met through business associates. The couple first lived in East London near the docks and then Mile End, London.

    They were married for 17 years with Cook being away at sea for the majority of the time and managing to spend a total of only four years living with his wife. The couple had six children all of whom died prior to Elizabeth, leaving her without any immediate family for her last 40 years. In her later life Elizabeth lived in financial comfort with a pension provided by King George III and income received from the sale of books detailing Cook's voyages. However, life would have been lonely and she died on 13 May 1835.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Costume design for Elizabeth Cook, 'Cross Antarctic Circle'

    Primary title: Cross Antarctic Circle

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