Katherine MacInnes - Snow Widows

Mining never-before-seen archive material to reconstruct the lives of five women – wives, mothers and sisters of the men participating in Robert Falcon Scott’s polar expedition – MacInnes offers a fresh and utterly different perspective on the race to the South Pole.

 

In the middle of a moonless night in 1913, the Terra Nova steams silently into Oamaru harbour in New Zealand. The men aboard have a desperate mission - they must reach the relatives of Scott's South Pole expedition before the morning papers break the news that the whole party have perished.

Robert Falcon Scott and the men of his polar expedition were heroes of their age, enduring tremendous hardships to further the reputation of the empire they served. But they were also husbands, fathers, sons and brothers.

Now for the first time, and with unprecedented access to family archives, Katherine MacInnes retells the story of the race for the South Pole from the perspective of the women whose lives would be forever changed by it, five women who offer a window into a lost age.

Kathleen Scott, the fierce young wife of the expedition leader campaigned relentlessly for Scott's reputation, but did her ambition for glory drive her husband to take unnecessary risks? Oriana Wilson, a true help-mate and partner to the expedition's doctor, was a scientific mind in her own right and understood more than most what the men faced in Antarctica. 'Empire' Emily Bowers had already survived more than many, having fled the burning of Perak in the third Anglo-Burmese war. She and her son Birdie were 'more than just mother and son', they were firm friends. The indomitable Caroline Oates was the very picture of decorum and everything an Edwardian woman aspired to be, but she came to openly snubs the king's invitations to celebrate the expedition and the man who 'killed [her] son'. Lois Evans led a harder life than the other women, constantly on the edge of poverty and forced endure the media's classist assertions that her husband, the sole 'Jack Tar' in a band of officers, must have been responsible for the party's downfall. Lois didn't leave the copious letters and diaries her upperclass counterparts did, so her part of the story has been reconstructed through archival research, and is shared here for the first time.

In a remarkable feat of historical reconstruction and with a gripping narrative voice, Katherine MacInnes vividly depicts the lives, loves and losses of five women forced into the public eye by tragedy and shaped by the unrelenting culture of empire.

Listing Details

Saturday 22nd October, 12.30pm

Venue

Dorford Centre, Bridport Road

Ticket Prices

Adults: £10.00

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Paul was an excellent interviewer, and I loved the format. Great audience, acoustics...

Tracy Chevalier
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I enjoyed my visit to Dorchester tremendously and I was touched by both the enthusiasm of the audience and by the warm generosity of you and your team.

Leo McKinstry
Feedback From 2019 Festival

The tenor of the festival was a delight and a credit to the small band of organisers. 

Professor Martin Kemp
Feedback From 2019 Festival

The event I attended - Brian Patten - was excellent. I thought the format made for a very interesting session: better than just a talk.

My stand out event would have to be Prof Tony Redmond with Kate Adie - could have listened for another hour.

We'd like to say 'thank you' to everyone involved. We were very impressed with the arrangements, the quality of the speakers and the refreshments provided at the hall. We look forward to next year.

Penny Latty
Feedback From 2021 Festival

Thank you so much for inviting me to Dorchester, and looking after me so well. You and Paul run a great tight ship there and I was honoured to be a part of it this year.

Tim Pears
Feedback From 2019 Festival

Congratulations to the whole Lit Fest team. I am glad it has been such a well-deserved success! The huge effort put into it is very clear to see, it is great when that is acknowledged and rewarded! We have been very happy to host the event -we are all very proud to be involved with the Lit Fest...

Garry Batt, Duke's
Feedback From 2016 Festival

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