September 13, 2009

Monday, 13 September 1909


The Times announced that "Captain Scott informs us that another expedition ought to be arranged for at once .... [It] will, it is hoped, start in August next." [1]

"The main object of this Expedition," Scott wrote in his public appeal for funds, "is to reach the South Pole, and to secure for The British Empire the honour of this achievement." [2]

The announcement came as something of a surprise to the public, and even to the RGS.

In a letter to Leonard Darwin, Scott wrote, "At this juncture in the history of Polar Exploration, I think it absolutely necessary to continue those efforts which have given this country the foremost place in Antarctic research.... I believe that the main object, that of reaching the South Pole, will appeal to all our countrymen as the one rightly to be pursued at this moment, but the plan which I present provides also for the scientific exploration of a considerable extent of the Antarctic continent and will therefore I hope commend itself to the Royal Geographical Society." [3]

Kathleen Scott had gone into labour as the news appeared, and gave birth to a son the next day. He would be christened Peter Markham Scott.


Perhaps Amundsen did not have access to the Times, or he like much of the British public at least later remembered only Scott's emphasis on science, for in The South Pole he wrote, "Scott's plan and equipment were so widely different from my own that I regarded the telegram that I sent him later, with the information that we were bound for the Antarctic regions, rather as a mark of courtesy than as a communication which might cause him to alter his programme in the slightest degree. The British expedition was designed entirely for scientific research. The Pole was only a side-issue, whereas in my extended plan it was the main object." [4]


[1] The Times, 13 September 1909, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.221.
[2] The Times, 13 September, 1909, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.356.
[3] R.F. Scott, letter to Leonard Darwin, 13 September, 1909, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.357.
[4] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, v.1.

1 comment:

  1. Roland Huntford insists (in, for example, "Race for the South Pole", p.7), that Amundsen did not know that Scott was planning a second expedition to the Antarctic, and that since Amundsen's change of direction was in place by 9 September, four days before Scott's official announcement on the 13th, it was in fact Scott who was the "contender".

    It is a little difficult to believe that Amundsen did not at least suspect that Scott would go south again, but it is not clear at this remove how far such scuttlebutt had spread.