From Shackleton’s stories to Mawson’s mission to the tragedy of Captain Scott, Antarctic tales have caught the attention of readers around the world for the best part of 100 years. With so many different books out there, knowing where to start can be a little daunting.
We’ve created a list of ‘must-read’ books that deserve a place at the top of any Antarctic reader’s book list. Many explorers wrote their own books upon returning from the great south. Our list includes a fantastic mix of these biographies as well as truly fascinating stories and photography of some of Antarctica’s greatest explorers.
South, By Sir Ernest Shackleton
If you had to choose just one Antarctic book to read in your lifetime – this should be it! This first-hand tale covers one of the most daring and courageous operations during the grand Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration – the story of Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914 Endurance expedition. The story of Ernest Shackleton and his team’s survival against all odds will live forever in Antarctic folklore.
The Last Viking: The life of Roald Amundsen, By Stephen Brown
Roald Amundsen was – quite spectacularly – the first person to reach the South Pole. His planning was meticulous, and he was ahead of many of his time due to his experience and superior decision making. Amundsen is a national hero in Norway, and his fame became global when he announced to the world on 7 March 1912 from Hobart that he had conquered the Pole.
The Home of the Blizzard, By Sir Douglas Mawson
‘The man on the $100 note’ was put there for a reason. This Australian icon travelled to Antarctica on three occasions, including Shackleton’s first Nimrod Expedition in 1907. Mawson decided to lead his own Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) in 1911, just ten years after the Federation of Australia. The AAE departed Hobart in December that year. Mawson’s expedition became one of the first scientific expeditions to the white continent, and out of it came one of the greatest survival stories of all time.
Captain Scott, By Ranulph Fiennes
The story of Captain Scott is both a tragedy and an enthralling read. It is the story of a fearless English Captain up against the harsh Antarctic. Written by one of the greatest modern-day explorers, who knows a thing or two about the frozen continent, this is a wonderful read – which, as well as being a fantastic new biography, seeks to set the record straight on the way Scott’s achievements and reputation have been distorted over the years.
Mawson’s Huts, By David Jensen
If journal entries and incredible survival stories aren’t your thing, check out this fantastic coffee table book by our founding Chairman David Jensen. Filled with modern and historical Antarctic images, it provides fascinating insight into the historic East Antarctic Mawson’s Huts site, including how it became iconic and how the Mawson’s Huts Foundation works to preserve the huts and their history today.
Frank Hurley: A Photographers Life, By Alasdair McGregor
In this readable and wonderfully illustrated re-issued biography, McGregor describes Frank Hurley’s life and character in all its richness. Hurley kept diaries throughout his life and McGregor uses these insights to give a picture of a truly complex and driven man, who played a role in visually chronicling many of the major events of the 20th century. He was an official photographer in both World Wars, a pioneering documentary-maker, a participant in early feats of aviation, and a cinematographer on major Australian feature films of the 1930s. His personal collections of negatives, prints, diaries, scrapbooks and papers have been used widely in the evocative images of this book.
The Mawson’s Huts Foundation sells an incredible collection of Antarctic books, all profits from which go directly towards the Foundation’s mission to preserve the historic site of Mawson’s Huts in Antarctica. To browse our full collection, go to: mawsons-huts.org.au/product-category/booksanddvds