Allan Gordon (born c. 1740-?) of Aberdeen, Scotland, was the sole survivor of the Anne Forbes, a whaling ship that disappeared without a trace in 1757.
The Surpassing Adventures of Allan Gordon by James Hogg reportedly preserved the autobiographical accounts of Allan Gordon to schoolmaster John Duff. According to the accounts, Allan was the son of Adam Gordon, a farm worker. Allan was born in "a small cottage three miles above" Huntly, Scotland. Adam Gordon taught his son to read but not write. He then arranged for his son an apprenticeship to a tailor of Huntly, starting c. 1751.
The tailor was reportedly a "little crooked wretch" who repeatedly took out his anger on his apprentice in the form of physical and psychological abuse. After nearly a year of maltreatment, Allan refused to take another beating. Subsequent arguments amongst the pair escalated into physical fighting and, on one particular day of violence, Allan left his employer unconscious on the ground. On that same day the 12-year-old Allan left Huntly for Aberdeen.
Allan first found employment as a cabin boy and later as a sailor, which remained his occupation for the following five years. By this time Allan had reportedly become attached to the "nautical life" and enjoyed visiting new cities with every voyage. He joined the crew of the Anne Forbes for the first time in 1757. John Hughes, captain of the Anne Forbes, was described by Allan as a "drunken rash headlong fool" of an Englishman.
Allan was only 17 years old when the Anne Forbes hit an iceberg in the Arctic fog somewhere off the coast of Greenland. According to the amazing story Allan told when he returned to Aberdeen in 1764, he was thrown from his lookout point onto the iceberg by the force of the collision.
The Anne Forbes, soon after apparently sinking, resurfaced (presumably due to air trapped in the holds of the ship) and was eventually forced onto an underwater ledge of the iceberg where it quickly froze in place. Allan lived for some time in the imprisoned ship before finally escaping. This is remarkably similar to the events that transpired in September of 1854 when noted explorer Captain Elisha Kane's ship, the USS Advance, sank in the Arctic seas.
In fiction and modern-day media
Allan Gordon is the main character of Arthur J. Roth's book The Iceberg Hermit.
The Adventures of Allan Gordon is the name of a song by The Fall of Troy. On their 'Live At The Paradox' EP (back when they were called The Thirty Years War) Guitarist Thomas Erak made reference to 'The Iceberg Hermit' before playing the song.
- Hogg, James (1987), "The Surpassing Adventures of Allan Gordon", in Hughes, Gillian, Altrive Chapbooks 2, Stirling: The James Hogg Society, pp. 1–57, retrieved 14 June 2010
- Roth, Arthur J. (1974). The Iceberg Hermit. New York, NY: Scholastic. ISBN 0-590-44112-4