Birdie Bowers: Captain Scott’s Marvel.

Biography of the sailor who went to the South Pole and then died with Scott in 1912. Brought up an evangelical whose father was a Freemason, the biography shows a gradual ebbing of his faith through the early part of his career until he was summoned by Scott from the Royal Indian Marines.

p. 22 [His mother] Emily ran a Christian household: everyone sang Moody and Sankey hymns round the breakfast table and the children all learned to read their Bibles, say their prayers, and beware of ‘high’ Anglican or Roman Catholics whose views differed from those of the Evangelical Anglican Bowers or the Huguenot Protestant Foucars.

p. 36: Bowers “wondered whether he should have spent less time planning ahead and left more to divine providence.”

p. 37: He had recently read Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man but remained sure that God had created the inherently inexplicable and apparently chaotic world.

p. 45: Henry had recently concluded that he no longer believed in the concept of a literally ‘Blazing Hell’.

p. 46: Henry was trying to stay on the physical and spiritual ‘straight and narrow’ by keeping fit, limiting his intake of food and reading his new Diaglott Bible, a gift from Edie.

p. 48: Reading Capt. Scott’s books on the ‘Discovery’ made me as keen as mustard. Perhaps my chance will come later.

p. 56: in Persian Gulf: In port, Henry read news cables announcing that Shackleton’s attempt to reach the South Pole had failed to adverse weather conditions and a shortage of food; he still thought the ‘S. Polar show was splendid’ and longed for more details about the expedition.

p. 69: While on duty in India aboard Northbrook: Now, at least, Henry could read Ernest Shackleton’s Heart of the Antarctic, the explorer’s account of the Nimrod expedition, a copy of which had been obtained for the Northbrook’s library at Henry’s instigation.

p. 70, on his appointment to the Scott expedition in 1910: His appointment was, he told her, yet another example of the ‘unseen arrangement’ which guided his career: ‘One can only say it is destiny…it cannot be helped, it had to be. This may seem foolish, but it is not. God knows how & why I was appointed & I am in His hands entirely.’

p. 110 at Hut Point: Eventually they began to run out of things to do and had read all the Discovery expedition reading material, from ten-year-old issues of Girls’ Own Paper and Contemporary Review to a thawed-out copy of My Lady Rotha, a romantic novel of which the ending was missing.

p. 117 at Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds they found “five hymnbooks for the Cape Evans Sunday service choir.”

p. 142 trapped during a blizzard on the South Pole march: To pass the time they ‘spun yarns’, read By Order of the Company and other novels Taff Evans had brought with him, and listened to Keohane’s new poem, ‘The snow is all melting and everything’s afloat’.