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Further reading and acknowledgements

The main sources for the expeditions mentioned above are the publications produced immediately after the expeditions, often by their leaders; these are listed below.

  • The British Antarctic Expedition (Southern Cross), 1898-1900: Borchgrevink, C.E., 1901. First on the Antarctic continent: being an account of the British Antarctic Expedition 1898-1900. London: George Newnes Ltd.
  • British National Antarctic Expedition (Discovery), 1901-1904: Scott, R.F., 1905. The voyage of the 'Discovery'. London: Smith, Elder.
  • British Antarctic Expedition (Nimrod), 1907-1909: Shackleton, E.H., 1909. The heart of the Antarctic: being the story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909. London: William Heinemann.
  • British Antarctic Expedition (Terra Nova), 1910-1913: Scott, R.F., 1913. Scott's last expedition. London: Smith, Elder & Co. (The OUP edition edited by Max Jones contains the entries from Scott's journals which were altered in the first edition: Scott, R.F., 2005. Journals: Captain Scott's last expedition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.)
  • Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (Endurance), 1914-1917: Shackleton, E.H., 1919. South: the story of Shackleton's last expedition, 1914-1917. London: William Heinemann.
  • Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition (Quest), 1921-1922: Wild, F., 1923. Shackleton's last voyage: the story of the Quest. London and New York: Cassell.
  • Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition, 1933-1935: Byrd, R.E., 1935. Discovery: the story of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Many of these have since been published in more recent editions. In some cases (notably the Terra Nova expedition), other expedition members published accounts; in most cases, there is also a substantial secondary literature. (I have a particular fondness for Cherry-Garrard, A., 1922. The worst journey in the world, Antarctic, 1910-1913. London: Constable and Co Ltd, often described as one of the best travel books written.) References for all these can be found easily enough online.

Modern biographies are now available of all the main Antarctic personalities mentioned above, with the exception of William Colbeck.

  • Kathleen Scott: Young, L., 1995. A great task of happiness: the life of Kathleen Scott. London: Macmillan.
  • Robert Falcon Scott: Crane, D., 2005. Scott of the Antarctic: a life of courage and tragedy. London: HarperCollins.
  • Ernest Shackleton: Huntford, R., 1996. Shackleton. London: Abacus.
  • Edward Adrian Wilson: Williams, I., 2008. With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson – explorer, naturalist, artist. Stroud: History Press.
  • Bob Young: Young, H.R. (Bob), 2008. With Admiral Byrd's second Antarctic expedition: H.R. (Bob) Young's narrative account of his experiences down south & returning to civilization. [online] Columbus OH: Ohio State University. Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/35732 [Accessed 29 Jul. 2014].

Again with the exception of Colbeck, all also have good, short biographies in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (your local library can usually give you access to the ODNB).

At various points during the last three decades or so, following the publication of Roland Huntford’s Scott and Amundsen (also issued under the title The Last Place on Earth, and filmed as a TV mini-series under the same name in 1985), the debate about the relative merits of Scott and Shackleton has been extremely polarised and polemical. Whilst Huntford’s comprehensive biography of Shackleton remains fundamental (albeit with a strong bias in favour of its subject), more recent biographies of Scott – notably Crane’s – are settling into a more balanced view.

The afterlife of Scott's last expedition has also become the subject of a number of works; the most significant is Jones, M., 2004. The last great quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic sacrifice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Horniman's acting Librarian, Gill Poole, has also assembled a list of works in the Horniman Library that relate to the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. They can be consulted by appointment (details are at the foot of the Library's webpage):

  • Fricker, K., 1904. The Antarctic regions. 2nd edition ed. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. OSS 308 (99) FRI. Originally published in 1900, before the return of the Southern Cross expedition, this outlines knowledge of Antarctica immediately before the Heroic Age.
  • British Museum (Natural History), 1902. Report on the collections of natural history made in the Antarctic during the voyage of the ‘Southern Cross’. London: British Museum. 2AS 816.32 BRI.
  • Carpenter, G.H., 1905. Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. 'Scotia' collections. Collembola from the South Orkney Islands. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 26(6), pp.473–483. 595.713(411.2) CAR.
  • British Museum, 1907. National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904: natural history. London: British Museum. 816.32 BRI. Includes reproductions of many of E. A. Wilson’s watercolours and drawings of Antarctic animals.
  • Shackleton, E.H., 1909. The heart of the Antarctic: being the story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909. London: William Heinemann. OSS 308(99) SHA.
  • Levick, G.M., 1914. Antarctic penguins: a study of their social habits. London: William Heinemann. 2AS 888 LEV. This omits the more shocking aspects of penguin behaviour, only published a hundred years after the expedition.

And finally, we have an account of one of the later, mechanised type of Antarctic expedition – one which successfully made Shackleton’s intended journey across Antarctica via the South Pole: Fuchs, V. and Hillary, E., 1958. The crossing of Antarctica: the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955-58. London: Cassell. OSS 308(99) FUC.


In addition to my colleagues at the Horniman who first brought our Antarctic relics to my attention, and have patiently answered my questions and helped prepare material for this article, I'd like to record my thanks to the many people from outside the Museum who have so generously helped me track down the objects and information about them:

All mistakes are of course my own.