Robert Falcon Scott, Antarctic Explorer

Paul Watkins reviews four books about RFS in the Times Literary Supplement:

Scott2David Crane’s exhaustively researched Scott of the Antarctic is a welcome addition to the wealth of reading material about one of Britain’s most famous explorers. It is all here. From “Con’s” early days as a fourteen-year-old naval cadet among the white-gloved eccentrics of the pre-First World War Royal Navy, Crane leads us through the death of Scott’s father and brother and the financial burden placed on him to support his mother and sisters. He traces Scott’s first journey to the Antarctic as captain of HMS Discovery, whose crew, despite many set-backs, returned home having come closer to the Pole than anyone had ever been at that time. Crane describes Scott on his arrival in London, blackened by soot and snow glare, plunged unwillingly into the limelight of royal galas and the lecture circuit. Two years after his marriage to Kathleen Bruce, Scott returns for his second and final voyage to the Antarctic, intent on planting the Union Jack at the South Pole and thus claiming it for Britain. As exhaustion and frostbite take their toll, we read again the immortal words of Oates (“I am just going outside and may be some time”) and the eerily prophetic last line of Scott’s journal, “For God’s sake, look after our people”, almost as if he could foresee the looming carnage of the First World War.

More here.