Scott's Northern Party played an integral role in his iconic last expedition, but how did they survive? Through the eyes of the men involved, Meredith Hooper recounts one of the greatest tales of adventure and endurance, which has often been overshadowed by the tragedy which befell Scott.
Their tents were torn, their food was nearly finished and the ship had failed to pick them up as planned. Gale-force winds blew, bitter with the cold of approaching winter. Stranded and desperate, the six men of the Northern Party faced disaster. Searching out a snow drift they burrowed inside. Lieutenant Victor Campbell drew a line across the floor in the gloom to establish naval order: three officers on one side, the three seamen on the other. A birthday was celebrated with a carefully hoarded biscuit and they sang hymns every Sunday, so what kept these men going? Circumstances forced them closer together, their roles blurred and a shared sense of reality emerged. This mutual suffering made them indivisible and somehow they made it through the longest winter.
To the south, the men waiting at headquarters knew that the Polar Party must be dead and hoped that another six men would not be added to the death toll. Working from expedition diaries, journals and letters written by expedition members, Meredith Hooper tells the intensely human story of Scott's other expedition.
Meredith Hooper has the rare, possibly unique, distinction of being selected as a writer in Antarctica by three government programmes - the US National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Program, twice; by the British Admiralty, travelling on HMS Endurance; and by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions. She has written a range of books and articles on Antarctica (general market, academic, children's). The Ferocious Summer was published in last August.
Meredith Hooper is a UK Trustee of the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation, a Trustee of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and served as a juror on the British Antarctic Survey's Artists & Writers Programme. She was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal by the US Congress in 2000.
Meredith was born in Australia and has been living in the UK since taking up a scholarship at Oxford to do post-graduate research.