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What we’re reading: September 2018

Step back in time with the South Polar Times, a century-old magazine by Captain Scott and his team on two epic expeditions to the Antarctic

What we’re reading: September 2018
Image: The Folio Society Edition of South Polar TImes

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Travel writing is the broadest of churches. And this month’s books selection brings this very much to the fore. We are currently holding a real treasure of a book in our hands: an artfully bound, elegantly presented collection of the South Polar Times, a magazine from over a century ago written by Captain Robert Scott and his team on two epic expeditions to the Arctic in the early 1900s. Collated together for the first time into one volume by the Folio Society, the magazines include both serious scientific reports, along with cartoons, songs and satirical articles that brought a degree of levity and light to the dark days endured on ice by Scott, Shackleton, Wilson and Cherry-Garrard; days that would be their last.

Nature, both harsh and fair, was the inspiration for Waymaking – An Anthology Of Women’s Adventure Writing & Art, a collection of prose, poetry and art from today’s adventurers and explorers, including climber Hazel Findlay, and solo sailor Sarah Outen. It’s a beautiful, brave and true, and this charity book has sprung to life via a passionate Kickstarter campaign.

Another counter balance to all those colonial white male tales of derring do: Heart of the Race, Black Women’s Lives in Britain is a “corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded”. This newly printed version comes with a foreword by prominent columnist, Lola Okolosie and interviews with the authors looking at the impact this seminal book has had since originally being published in 1985.

And finally, the latest beer bible is out: The Craft Beer Dictionary, An A-Z of Craft Beer, taking readers on a worldwide tour of producers, from hops to glass, with tasting notes to boot. We bet it’s something Scott and crew would have liked the liberty to enjoy before that final foray into the great white unknown.

South Polar Times 

What to do, during the long dark months stuck in interminable ice? Besides the scientific research they were tasked with in winter, Captain Robert Scott and his team took to entertaining themselves by creating a magazine. The South Polar Times was typed up and illustrated with expedition members’ own words, sketches and photographs, each issue read aloud to all hands: a little light in the 24-hour darkness.

Scott’s two expeditions to the icy climes of the Antarctic (in 1901–4 and in 1910–12) saw brief summers of exploration followed by months grounded by polar winters, and the South Polar Times offers a particularly intimate insight into daily conditions inside that expedition hut at Cape Evans. These magazines — collated for the first time into one volume by the Folio Society — included both serious reports on the weather and fauna, along with cartoons, songs and satirical articles poking fun at team members. The book’s pages replicate the original journals, and an introduction by polar publishing authority, Ann Savours, takes readers behind the scenes of the magazine, from editorial process to publication including the poignant final issue.

The Folio Society’s edition of South Polar Times, written by the members of the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions, introduced by Ann Savours, is available exclusively from foliosociety.com

Wise words

FUND THIS: Waymaking — An Anthology Of Women’s Adventure Writing & Art, is inspired by the outdoors and contributors include explorers. All royalties from the sales of Waymaking will go to the John Muir Trust and Rape Crisis. RRP: £17.99 (Vertebrate Publishing)

READ THIS: Heart of the Race, Black Women’s Lives in Britain is a ‘corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded’. This vivid examination details personal and political struggles. RRP: £11.99 (Verso)

DRINK THIS: The Craft Beer Dictionary: An A-Z of Craft Beer, from Hop to Glass, raises a glass to the craft beer scene, with info on beer history, ingredients and brewing methods, the latest scientific techniques and tasting notes. RRP: £15 (Mitchell Beazley)

Published in the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)