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Stealing the Glory
BBC Radio 4, 2001. Presented by Colin Salmon, Written and Produced by Pam Fraser Solomon. 
Download this MP3 file (28 MB - 128K/sec) - a 30 minute radio presentation of interviews and narration by Matthew Henson (portrayed by Colin Salmon). Features Dr. Allen Counter, Paul Landry, and others.

Download smaller MP3 file (12 MB - 56K/sec)
Also: Robert E. Peary - actual 4 1/2 minute speech by Admiral Peary from an old RCA Victor recording
Stealing the Glory is about Matthew Henson, his achievements as an arctic explorer and his struggle to gain recognition against a background of racism at its most vulgar that continues to this day. Matthew Henson and four Inuit - Ootah, Egingwah, Ooqueah and Seeglo, stood with Peary at the North Pole on April 6th 1909. For Henson & Peary attaining the North Pole had been a goal, driving them for 18 years and a prize every nation wanted.

On returning to America they met with scenes of mass adulation for Dr. Cook, who falsely claimed to have reached the Pole first. This confusion over the two claims only took a few months to resolve; though people wanted to believe Cook, the mountain of evidence against him revealed fraud that could not be ignored. After the humiliation of Cook stealing their thunder, Peary, Henson and the other explorers fully expected justice to be done. Instead of recognition and reward they became victims of a new controversy. A single, racist question, originally posed by Cook's supporters, has been repeated even in the most recent publications on the 1909 North Pole expedition.

"Why did you send all your white men back to land and take the Negro Henson to the pole?"
Immediately, and for all time, Henson was dismissed as not being a "credible witness' because of the color of his skin. The burden of proof lay with Peary and Peary alone.

Peary was then and still is considered the only witness to the final 133 nautical miles of the journey to the Pole. Peary was interrogated by America's Congress and made to produce more and more evidence to support his claim. Finally he and the white members of the expedition were honored but Matthew Henson had to be sacrificed. His contribution to the expedition was conveniently forgotten.

Henson did not stay forgotten.
He was a legend in Greenland and Scandinavia. He became a much loved icon to Black America and was a popular member in the exclusive New York Explorers Club. For contemporary writers attempting to continue the North Pole controversy Henson is a frustrating figure, an individual of genuine integrity getting in the way of the "credible witness' argument; the latest approach to the debate is simply to ignore Henson, white washing him out of history. The problem is that in trying to revise history one cannot remove Matthew Henson from arctic exploration. No one can erase memories of the deep understanding that developed between the Inuit people and the man they named 'Mahri-Pahluk,' 'Mathew-the Kind One.'
Stealing the Glory:
The Conquest of the North Pole
Matthew Henson, Arctic explorer
Originally broadcast
Wednesday 3rd January 2001, BBC Radio 4


Allen Counter
Harvard Professor,
Leading authority on Henson

Douglas R. Davies
Navigation & North Pole expert

Paul Landry
Arctic Sledding expert

Audrey Mebane
Great Niece of Henson

Bert Peary-Stafford
Great grandson of Robert E. Peary

Olive Henson Fulton
Great Nice of Henson

Ranulph Fiennes
Pompous, anti-Henson British twit.
Why did Pam Fraser Solomon produce "Stealing The Glory?"

What is this? Why is this?
It is a reasonable question for any American to ask "What is this radio program all about?! Why are the British apparently anti-Peary and think Henson was his "servant", and "not a reliable witness"?!
What the...? Good questions. In a nutshell: popular British author Wally Herbert, long dead polar hoaxer Fred Cook, and money from Cook's vindictive daughter created a sensational book back in the 1980s "Noose of Laurels". 

Herbert's dramatized mass of innuendo was an act of calumny. A clever attempt to discredit Peary as first to the North Pole in order to make Herbert's visit there in 1969 as "the first." It was hailed in Britain as "proof" that Peary had not reached the North Pole. Crazy you say? Yes, but then you have to understand an even weirder situation about the English hero Scott who died, along with his team, in his ill planned attempt to race Amundsen to the South Pole. This was all back in 1913.
Scott died at the South Pole
Huh? Well, the English figured that if Peary had not discovered the North Pole then their hero, upper class Scott, would have done so. Instead Scott died horribly at the South Pole - a place Peary declared easy to reach since it was on land, unlike the treacherous North Pole over 400 miles from shore. Scott rejected Peary's use of the arctic husky as a motive force saying "dog is man's best friend...and should never be used for such purposes." So Scott made his men the dogs until they died, freezing and starving, from the exhausting effort. Amundsen used Peary's methods, with dogs, and easily jaunted to the South Pole victory and safely returned. This made the English look like fools. They wrote Amundsen out of their history books. Later Cook, Hall and England's own Gordon Hayes would fuel them with anti-Peary vitriol...well you see where this ends up.

Career criminal Fred Cook made a living on the vaudeville circuit with his anti-Peary "and his wealthy backers" show that was condemned as a "perversion of history" by Congressman Fess in 1915. Cook reprinted his phony "I discovered the North Pole" book to 60,000 copies as he sold them from coast to coast in his show. Remember; this is before the age of TV, the Internet and even broadcast radio! Cook's vitriolic antics made their way to a weak minded individual named Thomas Hall - a fool of such magnitude his armchair conspiracy theory book is a classic in blunt skull stupidity. Nevertheless English Cleric J. Gordon Hayes took the rugby ball and ran with it! He inflamed the conspiracy in his own mind with a book as ridiculous as Halls.

Yet Hall's 1929 "Peary was a faker" slept on library shelves all over England to be rediscovered by "researchers" in later years. And thus the legend of "Peary and his wealthy backers" was born. Wally Herbert revised all this in a skillful tale that simply reformatted Cook's old vaudeville show. But Herbert went over the top with one last act of fraud - he claimed that he read Peary's "secret North Pole Diary" (a rare document secured in a vault at the Library of Congress) that proved Peary was a fraud.

Are you still with me?

Herbert was a jolly good chap in the UK so the Queen knighted the 5 foot tall shrimp. The majority of the populace in the United Kingdom believed Herbert had "proved" Peary a fake. But that arrogance on their side of the pond inflamed historians in the USA. I was one of them. My father wrote Matthew Henson's biography Dark Companion. As my contribution to this situation I obtained a microfilm from the Library of Congress. Using Photoshop the images of each and every single page of the Peary Diary was posted on the Internet with a text transcript by polar expert Douglas Davies.

The upshot of all this?
Peary's diary proves Wally Herbert lied. Herbert cannot ever sue me for libel over this because I am stating fact. Wally Herbert pulled a fast one on the public because no copy of the Peary Diary existed at the time of his book. No one could refute his "discovery" until Doug Davies and myself brought the facts to the light of the world to see.

Congressman Fess
Cook's vaudeville show that "perverted American history" was brilliantly exposed by Fess in 1915. I restored this rare document that has to be the best revelation of the creepy things Cook did after the world rejected him as a fraud. It is my honor to keep this transcription on the Internet for the enlightenment of researchers.

And so Pam Fraser Solomon...
Offended at the racism in the UK that declared Henson "just Peary's servant", and invalidated by Wally Herbert's thoughtless repetition of Cook's old line "Henson was not a reliable witness"...she made "Stealing the Glory" for the people of the UK. In another sense her excellent work is a tribute to Henson, and the equivalent of a Master's Degree Thesis in Black History. Bravo! Well done Ms Solomon.
Career criminal Fred Cook sold copies of this anti-Peary book year after year on the American vaudeville circuit.

Wally Herbert weasled Cook's daughter as a potential source of funds for his North Pole adventure.
Their letters of correspondence reveal Herbert was groveling to her for money and was all too happy to put in a good word for her father at the expense of Peary & Henson.
Hall was entranced with Cook and wrote this incredibly stupid "armchair expert" anti-Peary work that was a re-write of Cook's book.
English Cleric Hayes read Hall and thought he discovered fire. An equally inept armchair expert Hayes wrote his own version of Cook and Hall's absurd works.
Copyright 2009 Bradley Robinson.