Mawson’s Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story ever Written.

An American version of This Accursed Land.

p. 57—at hut on Adélie land: the men stowed their personal possessions—books, family photographs, diaries—along the shelves.

p. 69: Midwinter came with the knowledge that the sun had halted its slide north of the equator and would move back to bring spring to the southern hemisphere; and it was a traditional Christmas for Antarctic explorers…not an isolated event, for in the confiding tedium of hut life in winter the men looked for events to celebrate, even down to marking the anniversary of the first gaslight in the city of London

p. 86—brief service read by Mawson from prayer book, sang a hymn and prayed for good weather. The battered prayer book was also used for the burial service for Ninnis (p. 122), and again for the burial of Mertz (p. 175).

p. 89, in a cave: Ninnis and Mertz were in their sleeping bags, both reading. Ninnis had a much-loved miniature edition of Thackeray’s novels, given to him by his mother when they had said farewell at their home in the London suburb of Streatham. Mertz pored over a Sherlock Holmes book—part of the English curriculum that he had struggled through during the winter. [Mertz, a Swiss, later was reciting Holmes aloud (p. 109). (p. 70 of This Accursed Land).]

p. 108-09: In the early hours Mawson became aware that Ninnis was sitting up in his bag. He held a book in his left hand, but his eyes were shut; his right fingers were curled around the bowl of his calabash pipe, as though for comfort. He was rocking backward and forward, as though he might be soothing a baby…. he gently pressed Ninnis back and covered him with the cowl of the bag (p. 87, cf. This Accursed Land). [During a blizzard the men reminisced about Dulwich, Shackleton, Mawson’s meetings with Scott, and then Mertz recited passages from Sherlock Holmes.]

p. 122, when Ninnis died: Mawson read the burial service from his battered prayer book: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away…”

p. 175, Mawson had to do the same thing 4 weeks later when Mertz died: When it was done he took out his prayerbook and for the second time on the journey stood bareheaded in the snow and read the burial service.

p. 179—Bickel quotes a Robert Service poem as inspiration—sounds suspect to me.

p. 257—Kipling quoted in the last entry at the end of Mawson’s Antarctic diary.