A Gun for a Fountain Pen: Antarctic Journal November 1910 – January 1912
Copyright: 2012, Australia
Specifications: 1st thus, 8vo, pp.205, photo frontis, 8 color & 38 bw photos, 1 pencil sketches, 3 maps, uncut, dec eps, dec tri-fold cloth
Condition: issued w/o dj, cloth new
George Murray Levick (1876 – 1956) was a surgeon and zoologist on Robert Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition (1910-13). During the course of the expedition he served with the Northern Party, a group led by Lieutenant Victor Campbell with five others (Petty Officers George Abbott & Frank Browning, Seaman Harry Dickason, Surgeon George Murray Levick, & Geologist Raymond Priestley). Originally intended to be an Eastern Party, exploring King Edward VII Land, they were diverted by Roald Amundsen's presence in the Bay of Whales, and the difficulty of finding a landing place, to Carsten Borchgrevink's old base at Cape Adare.
With the assistance of the Terra Nova they left base camp at Cape Evans in January 1911 and established a winter hut at Cape Adare and were able to make several exploratory survey journeys, conduct meteorological studies, and Levick’s penguin study before their first year was out. They were then moved in January 1912 by the Terra Nova to Evans Coves, in Terra Nova Bay, with eight weeks of supplies for exploratory sledging and to survey Mount Melbourne. Upon returning to meet the Terra Nova in February to be reunited back with the main party at Cape Evans the ship was not to be seen, having been unable to reach them through the heavy pack ice. What ensued was a grueling seven-month winter on starvation rations of penguin and seal meat in a snow cave. Come spring they made a 40-day, 230-mile, sledge journey back to Cape Evans with every man barely surviving their incredible ordeal. Four of the men kept journals during this time which have now been published – Priestley’s ‘Antarctic Adventure: Scott's Northern Party’ (1915), Campbell’s ‘The Wicked Mate’ (1988), Dickason’s ‘Penguins and Primus’ (2012), and Levick’s journal is described here.
Levick’s journal describes the Terra Nova's departure from Port Chalmer’s, New Zealand, the voyage south, the landing of the main party at Cape Evans, the re-embarkation of the Northern Party, the meeting with Amundsen at the Bay of Whales - an encounter to which Levick reacts more positively than other members of the expedition (‘This has been a wonderful day ... it is going to be one of the finest races next summer that the world has ever seen’) - the landing at Cape Adare, the construction of the hut and the devices and activities of the winter there, to the spring and early summer spent at the hut and on sledging expeditions in the Robertson Bay area. The volume ends with the Northern Party's re-embarkation on the Terra Nova on its way to Evans Coves, prior to their second winter in the snow cave.
Levick’s journal was purchased at auction by Australian billionaire Kerry Stokes for $73,508 in 2010. This is one of three books published from Antarctic journals which were purchased by Stokes at auction and is an important addition to the Northern Party literature. See also Harry Dickason ‘Penguins and Primus’ (#26857) and Edward Wilson & Henry Bowers ‘A Tale for Our Generation’ (#26087).