A national hero, Douglas Mawson is famous as an Antarctic explorer who narrowly escaped death on the ice. Many books have been written about him. Artefacts from his expeditions are on public display and Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison in the Australian Antarctic Territory have been preserved as a heritage site. His exploits are known to us, and yet he is enigmatic and cloaked in controversy.
In this book, Emma McEwin, Mawson’s great-granddaughter, reflects on her forebear’s public and private persona. Inspired by letters and portraits and other material traces of his legacy, she writes intimately about his effect on generations of his family and the making and unmaking of myths about him.
“What do things tell us about a person? This is the question that set me off in search of my great-grandfather. I knew that there was more I wanted to find out about him, not only as an explorer, but as a husband, father, scientist and academic, and about the lives of those who knew him, in particular, his wife Paquita and his daughters, Pat and Jessica. Fortunately, Mawson was a great hoarder of all kinds of things, from letters to books to scientific specimens, all of which reveal something, either about the kind of person he was or about how he is remembered.”