25 September 2002
SIR DOUGLAS MAWSON (1882-1958)
Autograph letter signed and typed letter signed to Lady (Emily) Shackleton, University of Adelaide and n.p., 4 and 25 November 1915, on paper with printed heading of the Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1914, the typed letter annotated in autograph 'Please excuse the type I do it myself as you can judge from the frequent errors -- D.M.', together 3 pages, 4to; with a typed copy of a letter by an unidentified correspondent [presumably Edgeworth David] to Lady Shackleton, 10 August 1915, 1½ pages, 4to.
Mawson urges the publication of the scientific reports of the Nimrod Expedition: 'I have now had a lot of material ready for publication on my hands for 5 years. I have taken it to London and back, twice. I have asked and I have written to Sir Ernest as to the publication. My letters on the subject have not been answered. Already the matter has lost some of its value and it soon will loose [sic] more if not promptly attended to'; Mawson could have published the series through a scientific society, but did not wish to cheat subscribers to the expedition's official series: 'Mr Heinemann has vol 2 of the Geological report half in type ... It is a very valuable report and it has cost us here in Australia about three times as much in hard cash'; publication is particularly urgent in view of the war, for the contributors may be killed off any day and not able to proof their own sections'. The letter ends with thoughts of the progress of Shackleton's Endurance expedition: 'We must hope to get news ... about the end of March. It has been an unusually wet season in the southern hemisphere, and I think that indicates calmer weather in the Antarctic. That is good for travelling but allows the floe ice to become thicker, and delays the break up'. The second letter communicates the news that Heinemann has decided to go ahead with the geological volume. 'Sir Ernest will now be on the long march -- I dreamt of him several times recently'. Edgeworth David's letter discusses the same subject and asks for a decision on the publication of the results.
In fact, by the time of Mawson's second letter, Shackleton was marooned on the ice floes of the Weddell Sea, the Endurance having sunk on 21 November. (3)
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