12 September 2014
Sir John Franklin's fabled Arctic ship that vanished more than 160 years ago was found this week. But a painting related to its mysterious demise hanging in one university has been haunting exam students for decades, writes Tom Heyden.
"The polar bears made me do it," are the eeriest words to emerge from the urban legend of Edwin Landseer's painting - a grisly depiction of two polar bears hanging at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since the first exams were taken there in the 1920s and 1930s, it's been a painting associated with failure. "If you sit directly in front of it in an exam, you will fail - unless it's covered up," goes the myth, according to the college's curator Dr Laura MacCulloch. […]