I’ve been the curator of the Polar Museum for a little over a month, and unsurprisingly the learning curve has been steep! As well as getting to grips with the running of the museum and all the practicalities that come with that, I’m trying to very quickly get up to speed with the history of the polar regions.
I asked twitter for some reading recommendations. I’ve ended up with a list that combines a combination of quick-hit short articles, about all sorts of things ranging from an unusual form of ‘cold turkey’ to polar aviation (thanks to @lizbruton and @dannybirchall), and some fascinating sounding books that I’ll work my way through over time, like @gabridli’s suggestion of The Idea of the North. I’d love to know what you would recommend, so get in touch with us and we’ll share your favourite polar reads.
— Dr Elizabeth Bruton (@lizbruton) November 17, 2015
The first book I’m reading is Michael Smith’s Polar Crusader: A Life of Sir James Wordie. Wordie was a geologist, and in 1914 he joined Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic on board the ship Endurance. Here at the museum we’re marking the expedition with ‘By Endurance We Conquer’, our current exhibition. It relates the astonishing journey that expedition members undertook for survival after Endurance was crushed by the ice in Antarctica on 21 November 1914. Given the drama and heroism of that tale, it might seem strange that I haven’t leapt straight in with Shackleton’s own book South. With my background in the history of science I’m intrigued to learn how much scientific research and data gathering Wordie was able to do on the trip. One striking thing is that so much useful scientific material survived the expedition given the extraordinarily difficult circumstances.