South Polar Times

Introduced by Ann Savours

Published in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society, the British Library and the Scott Polar Research Institute, this Folio edition is the complete facsimile of all 12 original issues of the South Polar Times – Captain Scott’s expedition magazine.

From day to day the traveller bold
In polar regions, I am told
Thinks much of this; indeed it may
Be said to cheer him all the way.

Captain Scott led two expeditions to the Antarctic: on the ship Discovery in 1901–4 and the Terra Nova in 1910–13. He and his men waited out the long months of winter darkness carrying out scientific research and then used the brief summers to explore the uncharted continent. To entertain themselves during those interminable winters, expedition members created a magazine – the South Polar Times. Typed up and illustrated with expedition members’ own text, paintings, sketches and photographs, each issue was read aloud to all hands.

Production Details

Bound in printed and blocked cloth
Pages are facsimiles from the original journals reproduced to same dimensions
Printed slipcase
Ribbon marker
11˝ x 8¼˝

The unseen expedition

The magazines contain a mixture of the ‘grave and gay’; serious reports on the weather or fauna interspersed with cartoons, songs and articles that gently poke fun at team members. The material provides an unsurpassed sense of the expedition community, which included personalities such as Scott, Shackleton, Wilson and Cherry-Garrard, as well as scientists and ordinary seamen – all inspired to travel to Antarctica and risk their lives. The magazines convey an unsurpassed sense of the men’s camaraderie, patriotic vision and stoicism.

Triumph and tragedy

The history of Antarctic exploration continues to fascinate but the tragic death of Scott and his companions during the ill-fated 1911 journey to the South Pole has overshadowed much of what the expeditions were really about: scientific study, the pursuit of knowledge and a desire to push oneself to the limits. The South Polar Times offers an insight into the daily conditions, tasks and amusements of the expedition that is more evocative than any history book or biography.

‘Only one copy has been produced and this has been made as complete and perfect as possible under our circumstances, in the hope that the whole thing may be thoroughly well reproduced with all the illustrations when we get home.’
  1. Scott’s Journal

Scott’s intention has been fully realised in this painstaking and exact reproduction of all 12 issues of the South Polar Times. Polar publishing authority Ann Savours’s introduction has been updated and revised for this edition. It goes behind the scenes of the magazine, from editorial process to publication, and dwells on the poignancy of the final issue; created by team members fully aware that the absent Scott, Wilson and colleagues had certainly perished. The volume binding is indicative of the scale and quality of the magazine illustrations; it replicates a detail from Wilson’s exquisite watercolour from the 1902 South Polar Times cover.


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