Nick Smith

A Native of the Ends of the Earth

Sir James Wordie, Polar Crusader: Exploring the Arctic and Antarctic


Berlinn 371pp £25 order from our bookshop

THERE ARE LOTS of books about polar explorers of the so-called heroic age. More than fifty biographies have been written about Scott of the Antarctic alone; punch the word ‘Shackleton’ into the search field on Amazon and you get an astonishing 530 references. Most additions to the corpus of polar literature these days are rehashes of the same archived research material, or are simply glorified diaries of recent expeditions, cobbled together quickly in an attempt to claw back some of the considerable expenses associated with them. Sir James Wordie, Polar Crusader, Michael Smith’s well turned-out biography of a subject who is rather difficult to pin down, is neither, drawing largely on personal recollections of family, friends and col- leagues, as well as previously unpublished papers and diaries, most notably those of Wordie himself.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter