Scott's Voyage Of The 'Discovery'.
This book celebrates the start of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. It is quite a thick volume and reflects Scott's ability at writing. Ernest Shackleton was a member of the expedition and due to an attack of scurvy was declared unfit and returned after only one winter in Antarctica. There is no doubt that there was a major clash between Shackleton and Scott but good manners and the need to say that everything was a success was paramount. It is what is not said that makes this book interesting.
It is amazing to think that this book is nearly 100 yrs old. It was first published in October 1905, reprinted by November 1905 (Smith Elder). There followed a steady stream of new editions and reprints mostly under John Murray. There was also mixture of books published in 1913/14 such as 'Voyages of the Terra Nova' and the popular 'The Voyages of Capt. Scott retold from the Voyages of Discovery and Scott's Last Expedition'. (Smith Elder 1914). The USA version was published by Dodd Meads.This book is not as common as 'Last Expedition' which of course was the more dramatic story. First editions fetch about £200.
Scott's Last Expedition: The Personal Journals of Captain R.F. Scott, CVO, RN.
A key source of primary evidence. It is of course, not perfect, and has been thoroughly edited. There is little personal opinion and it is a statement of facts and figures. It is however, the last will and testament of a great English explorer. Scott has the skill of writing (provided it was based on factual evidence - abstract thought probably drilled out of him in the Navy). The story is told in strict diary form and builds up to the now famous quote on finding that Amundsen had beaten him to the pole 'God this is an awful place'. Here the diary distinctly turns as the realisation dawns that the return journey is not going to be easy. There is a photograph taken at the pole of the team looking at the camera. Look at it and see in their faces the emotional drain. Would they have made it back, if they had been the first to the pole in the same circumstances? The tragic deaths of Evans and Oates hits the reader- Scott's true feelings now only coming to the fore. To the end he knows he has a role to play and believes the failure was partially down to bad luck and to a certain extent it was, years later it was proved that the weather was unusually severe. The limitation of science at that time especially in relation to diet was not entirely Scott's fault. The diary is a 'must read' but its for what is not in it, more than anything else.
The book has been extensively published and reprinted over the years. Smith Elder first published in two vols. in November 1913 and it was to say the least, eagerly bought by the public. A second and third edition also came in November of that year and two further editions by the end of January 1914. It was not until 1923 that John Murray issued a one vol. edition. This was also extensively reprinted. By 1954 it was on its 11th reprinting. The 12th printing onwards had a foreword by Peter Scott. The Folio Society issued a good edition in 1964 with a foreword by Sir Vivian Fuchs.
Editions in the last few years have played around with the title. This seems to be mainly for the American market- 'Tragedy and Triumph: The Journals of Captain RF Scott's Last Polar Expedition.' ( Published by Kowecky & Kowecky 1993) or 'Scott's Last Expedition. The Journals' (Carroll & Graf 1996).
Values- a 1913, 2 vol. copy fetches between £240 -£340. I have seen a first edition valued at £2,400 but this was perhaps because its was signed by the surviving expedition members!