Fridtjof Nansen was born on 10th October 1861 at Store Frøen near Kristiana (presently known as Oslo). Nansen’s childhood was spent in Store Frøen where he had his daily routine of swimming and fishing in the summers, hunting game in the forests during the autumn season and skiing during the cold winters. He became a master at these activities while practicing them during these different seasons only. Fridtjof since childhood had a keen interest in these activities and also in other things than academics.
Nansen’s father Baldur Fridtjof Nansen was a religious man and a prosperous lawyer. Nansen’s father married twice and after the second marriage, he settled at Store Frøen. Nansen’s mother Adelaide Johanne was an independent and strong woman because of whom her children kept outside always and learned and practiced such activities regularly. She was an athlete person too. Nansen’s parents had three children. Out of the three the first child died in infancy only and Nansen was the youngest of all, the third child. Nansen’s family was originally from Denmark then they shifted to Copenhagen and further to Store Frøen. Nansen’s grandfather was an explorer of the White Sea region of the Arctic Ocean. The family had its past related to the voyage and discovery of places and so did Nansen become further.
Academics were not a priority to him ever. He was much interested in all the other activities except studying in the school. His grades were also average. Nansen did his schooling from a school in Kristiana (now Oslo). He passed an entrance examination in 1880 which led him to make his way to the university He took admission at the Royal Frederick University in Kristiana. As he was not very much interested in the academic life and loved sports, he chose zoology as his subject in the university so that he would remain outside in the forests for his work and enjoy open-air as he used to do earlier. He became an explorer at first when his professor at the university gave him to take a sea voyage and study the Arctic zoology which began in March 1882. So, he was a great athlete and a sportsperson who had less interest in his studies. He took up expeditions and many scientific activities later in his life too.
As an Explorer
In March 1882 he was supposed to take up a sea voyage to the Arctic Ocean. He was to take up the seal hunting process known as sealing and to do it through Viking. So it came to be known as the Sealer Viking. The voyage extended for five months where the Viking roamed between the Greenland and Spitsbergen in search of seals. The Viking was stuck in the ice near the Greenland coast which wasn’t discovered till then and Nansen was curious to discover it and so he made a plan to explore the Greenland icecap. Soon the Viking got free and they returned back to Norway.
Another expedition was taken up by him in 1890 through the ship called ‘Fram’. Fram was a ship whose shape was proposed by Nansen himself. It was to be designed in such a way that it will lift itself automatically as soon as there is a possibility of it being stuck in the ice. This idea was given by Nansen to the Norwegian Geographical Society. His plan of crossing the Arctic Ocean and reaching Spitsbergen from Siberia was criticized by a lot many explorers at that time, but Nansen was determined and did not let any negative thought enter his mind. So, Fram carrying Nansen accompanied with 13 other men sailed from Kristiana on 24th June 1893.
The Fram sailed smoothly through the waters and worked according to Nansen’s ideas wherever it got stuck in the ice. After some days, Fram’s swiftness got disturbed and they had to take a rest on the Frederick Jackson Island (Nansen named this Island as the same after Frederick Jackson whom he and his companions encountered on their ahead) staying there from 26th August 1895 to 19th May 1896. Now moving from there and on their way to Spitsbergen, they killed Frederick Jackson and capturing his ship ‘Windward’, they sailed to Norway. Fram also sailed smoothly to Kristiana and there happened a feast on their return to Kristiana with a successful expedition. The news of Nansen and his companions crossing the Greenland icecap reached Kristiana before they reached there. The return of the people leads to a feast involving a lot of many countrymen hanging up in the streets to welcome Nansen and his fellow companions. The University from where he studied offered him the post of a curator in the University’s zoology department and Nansen accepted it. He became an explorer with his first expedition on his proposed ship Fram.