Before the Heroes Came: Antarctica in the 1890s.

A solid but rather dry account of exploration in Antarctica during the decade before Robert Falcon Scott’s first expedition aboard the Discovery, and centered on Carsten Borchgrevink, his first landing on the Antarctic Continent, and his 1898-1900 Southern Cross expedition. In his concluding chapter, “Lessons not Learned,” Baughman explicitly accuses Clements Markham and Scott of failing to learn the lessons from the previous decade, thus leading to their “heroic” failure. In particular Markham insisted on naval leadership by the wrong people, avoiding scientific expertise, bypassing William Speirs Bruce for Scott, etc.

p. 29: re the whaling expedition of the Polar Star and the Diana in 1892: On the rest days the crew took care of personal chores, played whist, or read. Among the most popular works were ones that dealt with the Antarctic or with exploration, such as James Clark Ross’s account. Bruce developed an interest in Sir Walter Scott, which Burn Murdoch saw as proof ‘that times were leisurely, not necessarily slow.’ [Footnote on p. 131 adds: Other popular books were Darwin’s Voyages and Mill’s Realm of Nature; Murdoch liked the poem Ossian. On later voyages Murdoch also found the Norwegians better educated than the British sailors.]

p. 100, on the Southern Cross expedition (1899), ashore at Cape Adare with Borchgrevink and Bernacchi: variety of activities including lectures, singing, or reading aloud: Reading was a favorite activity, and the library contained many volumes on exploration.