Thursday, 4 December 2014

Antarctica in the news again

Author Meredith Hooper presents a copy of her book The Longest Winter: Scott's Other Heroes to Fairlynch Museum Secretary Iris Cooper

The great age of Britain’s polar heroes lives on thanks to the organisers of centenary events like Fairlynch’s much-praised  ‘Survival!’ exhibition of 2012-13.

Antarctic expert Meredith Hooper followed up her visit to the Museum’s exhibition with an appearance as one of the guest authors at Budleigh Salterton’s 2012 Literary Festival.  Her book The Longest Winter: Scott's Other Heroes highlighted the heroism of those members of Robert Falcon Scott’s Northern Party, which included former Budleigh resident Murray Levick.

The book was praised by Brian Schofield in The Sunday Times as “an authoritative and insightful chronicle” of the group’s harrowing experience during Scott’s fatal Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-13.

It was, he wrote, a vivid reconstruction which displays “the true grit and peculiar Englishness of the six explorers who survived half a year holed up in an ice cave in the Antarctic.”


Sub-Lieut. Ernest Henry Shackleton, R.N.R, aged 27. Unidentified photographer. From Hugh Robert Mill, The Life of Sir Ernest Shackleton, William Heinemann, London 1923, p. 56.

Meredith is now very much involved with various celebrations to mark the achievements of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The
8 August 2014 marked the start of the centenary of Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition.

The voyage of the James Caird is one of the gripping aspects of the Expedition. It was a small-boat journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi).


The Endurance, listing heavily, immediately before being crushed by the ice, October 1915.   Photo by Frank Hurley - Project Gutenberg - from Shackleton's book South, published by William Heinemann, 1919

Undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions, its objective was to obtain rescue for the main body of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17, stranded on Elephant Island after the loss of its ship Endurance. Polar historians regard the voyage as one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever undertaken.


 A depiction of the James Caird landing at South Georgia at the end of its voyage on 10 May 1916

“A  Shackleton/Encyclopaedia Britannica exhibition - small but very nice - recently opened  at Cambridge University Press in their in-house exhibition space,” says Meredith. “CUP picked up on some research I was doing on the Endurance expedition, and the subsequent article I wrote for the James Caird Journal, and decided to  run with it.”

The exhibition stays open till Feb 2015.   Click on  to find out more.

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