Letters from Scott of the Antarctic to his mother go under the hammer

PUBLISHED: 11:56 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 17 August 2020

Letters related to Scott of the Antarctic go under the hammer this August at Dawsons in Hampstead

Letters related to Scott of the Antarctic go under the hammer this August at Dawsons in Hampstead

Archant

An intriguing box of letters related to the polar explorer, which was discovered during a London house clearance, is due to go under the hammer this month

Antiques expert from Dawsons Auctions Peter MasonAntiques expert from Dawsons Auctions Peter Mason

Dawsons Auctioneers’ London office is located in the heart of the vibrant Hampstead. Life could often be classed as busy, and on occasion it can be downright manic walking through this beautiful part of the capital, as I write, we are also enduring a heatwave.

On rare occasions, we find wonderful items that transport our minds to completely different environments. Indeed, one such case has led me to the freezing cold void of the South Pole.

Dawsons are excited to be in the enviable position of taking to auction later this month, a remarkable collection of original correspondence relating to Robert Falcon Scott CVO (aka Scott of the Antarctic).

Spanning almost an entire century, the contents include handwritten letters from Scott to his family, dating from 1896 and 1906.

In addition, are a bound set of condolence letters and telegrams to his mother after his death - including from Buckingham Palace).

The collection was recently discovered as part of a London house clearance where it might easily have been lost forever.

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It had been held by the descendants of Scott’s sister, Ettie Myers Scott who was the wife of William Ellison-Macartney (1852-1924), the Irish born English politician and later Governor of the Australian States of Tasmania and Western Australia.

It was their family who retained the early items following the death of Robert and Ettie’s mother Hannah.

It has been a fascinating journey to read through the items in this collection, and related published material, piecing together a snapshot of not just Captain Scott himself, but his family and the circles he was moving in.

The period of the 1906 letters are particularly interesting, as it covers the time in between his two infamous Antarctic expeditions, when he had become a ‘popular hero’ of the nation, in addition to having been promoted to Flag Captain in his naval career. There is a candid air to one of the letters written to his mother at this time, from his ship, HMS Victorious, which brings a human element to a world-renowned explorer.

After his death in 1912 on his way back from reaching the South Pole, the poignant letters and telegrams of condolence from some of the luminaries of Edwardian society, include Sir Clements Markham, who had publicly championed Scott for many years.

He paid the following tribute in his letter: “He lived a good life, loving and beloved by all who were near and dear to him, respected by all, a life of true and zealous service to his King and country, and he died the death of a hero.”

J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan and a close friend of Scott (Scott’s son was named after the book’s main character), wrote; “I had a warm affection for your son, and I wish there were something – anything – I could do for you to show it.”

Estimated at £8,000 - £10,000, the collection will be sold as a single lot on August 27, with a view to keeping it all together.

Please contact Peter Mason, Auctioneer, for further information: info@dawsonsauctions.co.uk or call 020 7431 9445.


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