Henrik Johan Bull

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Henryk Bull (13 October 1844 – 1 June 1930 ) was a Norwegian businessman and shipping magnate. Henry Bull was one of the pioneers in the exploration of Antarctica.[1]


Henrik Johan Bull was born in Stokke in Vestfold County, Norway. He attended school in Tønsberg and worked for several years as a businessman in Tønsberg. During the late 1880s, he traveled to Melbourne, Australia, where he was associated with a company in shipping and trade.

In 1893, Norwegian whaling captain Svend Foyn agreed to financially support an Antarctica expedition led by Henryk Bull in search of Right Whales. Svend Foyn was a businessman who patented the grenade-harpoon gun which was to be used for whaling. The ship provided by Svend Foyn was named the Antarctic was used for the expedition. It was and was equipped with eleven harpoon guns, an arsenal of explosives, eight whaleboats and thirty-one men. The crew was captained by Leonard Kristensen and included Carsten Borchgrevink, who later lead the Southern Cross Expedition to Antarctica.[2]

Over the course of the two-year expedition, they visited Tristan da Cunha, the Prince Edward Islands, Îles Crozet, Îles Kerguelen, the Balleny Islands, Campbell Island and Possession Islands. On 19 January 1895, while in search of the elusive Right Whale, a small party landed on Possession Island, a rocky island about 2 miles long. On 24 January 1895 a boat was put ashore with six men including Bull, Leonard Kristensen, Carsten Borchgrevink and seaman Alexander von Tunzelmann at Cape Adare, Antarctica. At the time they believed they were the first men to set foot on Antarctica – and they are certainly the best confirmed – but unknown to them sealer John Davis, had made a disputed claim that he stepped onto the Antarctic Peninsula much earlier in 1821.[3]

In 1898, Henrik Johan Bull wrote his memories of the expedition in his book, Sydover. Ekspeditionen til Sydishavet i 1893–1895. The book was also published in English under the title The cruise of the 'Antarctic' to the South Polar regions (London & New York: Edward Arnold, 1896).[4]

He later founded a whaling company and was a pioneer of the whaling industry. Bull died in Oslo, Norway at 85 years of age.[5]


Other sources[edit]

  • Per Gramsborg. «The first man to have set foot on the Antarctic continent». I: The Norseman, nr 2 (1992)
  • Norsk biografisk leksikon
  • Henrik Johan Bull (1898) Sydover. Ekspeditionen til Sydishavet i 1893–1895 (British Library, Historical Print Editions) ISBN 978-1-241-41827-4