Penguins, Hockey and Serious Stuff Too: Scott’s Polar Chronicles

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The British explorer Robert Falcon Scott finally reached his destination a century ago, Jan. 17, 1912, more than a month too late to claim victory in the race to be first to the South Pole. But the triumphant Norwegian Roald Amundsen could not deny him at least one distinction: Scott was the founder of The South Polar Times, the first magazine to be produced on the Antarctic continent.

Just about anything done in Antarctica on Scott’s first expedition, beginning in 1902, had a good chance of being a first. When his ship Discovery entered McMurdo Sound, among the gear in its hold was a typewriter, lots of typing paper and art supplies. Scott had decided, in the tradition of other Royal Navy long voyages, that there should be a monthly periodical to entertain and help the explorers keep their chins up.

Keepers of journalism’s flame should take note. The illustrious publication saturated its market. The single handmade copy of each issue, neatly typed and illustrated with photographs, watercolors and playful sketches, was passed around and read aloud to one and all, icebound during the darkness of the austral winter, April to August....

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