Collingridge, Vanessa 1967-

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Collingridge, Vanessa 1967-


Born 1967. Education: Oxford University, degree (first-class honors), 1990, graduate work toward a Ph.D.


Home—Lochwinnoch, Scotland.


Television and radio host for British broadcasters, including for radio series Making History, and for television shows The People's Museum and British Isles—A Natural History; owner and director, Monster Media Productions (radio and television production company). Lecturer, including at the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Cambridge University, and Strathclyde University. Founder, Glasgow Café Scientifique.


Royal Geographic Society (fellow), Women into Science and Engineering (founding member).


Captain Cook: A Legacy under Fire, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2002, published as Captain Cook: Obsession and Betrayal in the New World, Ebury Press (London, England), 2002.

Boudica: The True Warrior Queen, Ebury Press (London, England), 2005, published as Boudica: The Life of Britain's Legendary Warrior Queen, Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Literary Review, Scotsman, Sunday Herald, and Mail on Sunday. Author of technology column for the London Daily Telegraph.


The television program Looking for Captain Cook, 2007, was adapted from Collingridge's Captain Cook: A Legacy under Fire.


A television and radio host known in Britain for her programs on science and history, Vanessa Collingridge has an education background in geography and cartography. Her interest in maps makes her first book a logical endeavor. Captain Cook: A Legacy under Fire is about the eighteenth-century British explorer James Cook. Cook made great contributions in mapping Canada and, more famously, Australia, New Zealand, and islands of the South Pacific. Collingridge set out to write about Cook when as an Oxford student, she came across a book written by a George Collingridge, an ancestor of hers who published the controversial The Discovery of Australia in 1895. In that book, he claimed that the Portuguese discovered Australia in the early sixteenth century. Though her relative's thesis was discounted at the time, Collingridge goes on to provide evidence that the Dutch were also in Australia before Cook and that they used some of the maps created by the Portuguese. The author interweaves this information and George Collingridge's story with a detailed life of Cook. She relates his amazing early discoveries, his life at home, his puzzling change in demeanor from compassionate captain to tyrant, and his horrendous death in 1779 in Hawaii at the hands of an angry crowd of natives who could no longer tolerate his poor treatment of them.

Some critics of Captain Cook noted that Collingridge seems to experience difficulty in meshing the different aspects of her book together smoothly. "The rapid switch between the 18th and 19th centuries soon becomes dizzying, and Vanessa Collingridge strains to keep the link between her dual narrative alive," remarked Sara Wheeler in the Spectator, though the critic added that the work "is well researched and bursting with detail." Angus Wilson, writing on the Ocean Wanderers Web site, similarly stated that the "two parallel stories are intertwined in an awkward struggle," while stressing that "the book is full of important insights and seems well researched."

For her second subject, Collingridge ventures back to Roman times and an ancient British heroine in Boudica: The Life of Britain's Legendary Warrior Queen. Boudica, who lived in the first century C.E., was the wife of a king who was obedient to their recent Roman conquerors. However, after his death, Boudica and her daughters were raped by Roman soldiers. Seeking revenge, she rallied her people together and drove the Romans out of three important British cities before she was killed. She is still a legend in Great Britain today, and the author recalls the image of the strong and valiant queen to compare her to England's Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria, as well as to Princess Diana. Collingridge draws largely from the writings of Roman historians Cassius Dio and Tacitus to compile the story. Booklist contributor Kristine Huntley declared the results to be an "absorbing historical study."



Book, November-December, 2002, Terry Teachout, "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before," review of Captain Cook: A Legacy under Fire, p. 83.

Booklist, June 1, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Boudica: The Life of Britain's Legendary Warrior Queen, p. 25.

Financial Times, March 2, 2002, Justin Marozzi, "To the Ends of the Earth: Justin Marozzi Relishes the Personal Touch in a New History of Cook's Incredible Journeys," p. 5.

Library Journal, June 15, 2006, Robert Harbison, review of Boudica, p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2002, review of Captain Cook, p. 71.

Spectator, March 9, 2002, Sara Wheeler, review of Captain Cook, p. 46.


Cruising Association Magazine Online, (July 8, 2002), review of Captain Cook.

Journal for Maritime Research Online, (September 1, 2002), Andrew C.F. David, review of Captain Cook.

Ocean Wanderers, (July 21, 2007), Angus Wilson, review of Captain Cook.

Take Three Management Web site, (July 20, 2007), biography of Vanessa Collingridge.

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Collingridge, Vanessa 1967-

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