October 10, 2010

Monday, 10 October 1910


Herbert Ponting had been signed on as expedition photographer, the first such to be part of a polar expedition. Now forty, Ponting was as much an adventurer as a photographer -- he had travelled from his native Wiltshire to California at the age of twenty, attracted by stories of the American West, and had there worked in mining and fruit-ranching before taking up freelance photography. He reported on the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05, and later travelled to Burma, Korea, Java, China, and India. His work appeared in "The Graphic" and "The Illustrated London News", among others, and his book In Lotus-land Japan appeared in 1910.

Ponting was much impressed by Scott. "[He] talked with such fervour of his forthcoming journey; of the lure of the southernmost seas; of the mystery of the Great Ice Barrier; of the grandeur of Erebus and the Western Mountains, and of the marvels of the animal life around the Pole, that I warmed to his enthusiasm .... [The] determined face; the clear blue eyes, with their sincere, searching gaze; the simple, direct speech, and earnest manner; the quiet force of the man -- all drew me to him irresistably." [1]


[1] Herbert Ponting, The Great White South, p.2, quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998, c1997), p.114.

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