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Good Reads  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

Widows of the Ice The Women that Scott's Antarctic Expedition Left Behind

Biography / Memoir
By: Anne Fletcher(Author)
320 pages, 16 plates with b/w photos
Widows of the Ice
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  • Widows of the Ice ISBN: 9781398117310 Paperback Sep 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
    £10.99
    #264205
  • Widows of the Ice ISBN: 9781445693767 Hardback May 2022 Availability uncertain: order now to get this when available
    £20.00
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About this book

As Captain Scott lay freezing and starving to death on his return journey from the South Pole, he wrote with a stub of pencil his final words: 'For God's sake look after our people'. Uppermost in his mind were the three women who would now be widows: Kathleen, his own bohemian artist wife; Oriana, the devout wife of the expedition's chief scientist, Ted Wilson; and Lois, the Welsh working-class wife of Petty Officer Edgar Evans.

When the news came that the men were dead, they became heroes, their story filling column inches in newspapers across the world. Their widows were thrust into the limelight, forced to grieve in public view, keeping a stiff upper lip while the world praised their husbands' sacrifice. These three women had little in common except that their husbands had died together, but this shared experience was to shape the rest of their lives.

Each experienced their loss differently, their treatment by the press and the public influenced by their class and contemporary notions of both manliness and womanly behaviour. Each had to rebuild their life, fiercely and loyally defending their husbands' legacies and protecting their fatherless children in the face of financial hardship, public criticism and intense press scrutiny.

Widows of the Ice is not the story of famous women but of forgotten wives, whose love and support helped to shape one of the most iconic moments in British history. They have drifted to the outer edges of the Antarctic narrative, and bringing them back gives a new perspective to a story we thought we already knew. It is a story of imperialistic dreams, misogyny and classism, but also of enormous courage, high ideals, duty – and, above all, love.

Customer Reviews

Biography

Anne Fletcher is a historian and writer. She has a successful career in heritage and has worked at some of the most exciting historic sites in the country including Hampton Court Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Bletchley Park and Tower Bridge. She is the great-great-great niece of Joseph Hobson Jagger, 'the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo' and he is the subject of her book From the Mill to Monte Carlo published by Amberley Publishing 2018. Her search for his story started with only a photograph, a newspaper article and the lyrics of the famous song. The story was featured in national newspapers.

Biography / Memoir
By: Anne Fletcher(Author)
320 pages, 16 plates with b/w photos
Media reviews

"An important new perspective on our polar heroes achieved by putting the women who supported, and sometimes drove them, at centre stage [...] also a damn good read."
– Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration of Endurance22, and author of The Ship Beneath the Ice

"This is the most mesmerising book! I wanted to follow these women's lives – their highs and lows – and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough. Their unique personalities leap out through Anne's expressive writing, and they appear so three-dimensional against such carefully constructed contemporary backdrops. This is social history at its best!"
– Dr Janina Ramirez

"A fascinating book that lifts the veil on an untold chapter of Polar history."
– Michael Smith, author of An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean and Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer

"A first-rate expedition into lives of quiet heroism. Beautifully written and researched, Widows of the Ice is a compelling insight into the world of Edwardian women navigating fraught destinies. This fresh perspective on society and polar exploration deserves to be widely read."
– Lucy Adlington, author of The Dressmakers of Auschwitz

"The women who supported polar exploration are often wrongly neglected, their contribution underplayed – this book sensitively introduces us to their lives in the aftermath of their beloveds' deaths."
– Dr Claire Warrior, polar historian

"The human story behind the well-known heroism is beautifully told. After more than a century in the shadows, the wives left behind by the Scott expedition are brought vividly, poignantly to life. A compelling, unforgettable book."
– Tracy Borman

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