(Maev Kennedy/Guardian, 3 February 2010) -- Readers can, from today, pore over the pages of faded pencil
handwriting that make up one of the most famous diaries in the world –
Captain Robert Scott's journal of the final months, days and hours of
his doomed 1911-1912 expedition to the South Pole.
The British Library has launched an online facsimile of the complete last diary alongside extensive extracts from the two earlier volumes. The move means people can follow the setbacks that befell his group – the deterioration of the weather, illness and injury and food and fuel supplies running out – until they died in their tent on 29 March 1912, only 11 miles from a supply depot. Long before writing his last sentences – "It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more – R. Scott – For God's sake look after our people" – the explorer knew they were finished. They had already experienced the shock of reaching the Pole only to find that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it. Scott described that as "a horrible day" and admitted for the first time that he and his companions might not survive the journey back. ...
Katrina Dean, the curator of the history of science at the library, said: "Scott's Antarctic diaries have played an important role in shaping images of polar exploration, so it's great that people all over the world can explore the original diaries online." Two of the original diaries are on view in the library's treasures gallery at King's Cross, London.