Entry describing The Blizzard from
ANTARCTICA, 1772-1922; FREESTANDING PUBLICATIONS THROUGH 1999
by Michael H. Rosove. (Santa Monica, California: Adélie Books, 2001)
Used here by kind permission of the author.
285. [Scott, Robert Falcon. (1868-1912)] (Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), editor.) The Blizzard.
285.A1. [Printed aboard the Discovery in the Antarctic: May 1902.] 6 leaves, 25.5 cm tall, 20.3 cm wide. Pagination: (1) illustrated cover title in blue [“Never Mind The Blizzard I’m all right. May 1902.”]; (2) text in blue [“Notes”; mostly editorial by Shackleton]; (3) illustration in blue [Mr. Ike Doggo. . . .]; (4) blank; (5-6) text in blue [untitled verse by “Kid”, “About Polar Explorers”, “Non-Cuss Jack”]; (7) illustration in green [with dog pulling on man’s seat of pants]; (8) blank; (9) illustration in purple [“P.T.O.”]; (10) illustration in purple [identical to p. 9]; (11) text in blue [“A Sealing Tour.”]; (12) blank. —— Renard 1432, Conrad p. 122. Very rare. 50 copies produced. The number extant is unknown, but probably very few. Copies: 40.
This ephemeral item derives from Scott’s expedition of 1901-4. Shackleton, who was editor of the shipboard magazine The South Polar Times during the řrst winter, originally intended that The Blizzard would be printed in multiple copies regularly during the winter months. Since only one original copy of The South Polar Times would be produced, The Blizzard would make it possible for each expedition member to possess some of their creative output. Shackleton announced the plan in the řrst issue of The South Polar Times (23 April 1902): “It has been decided to publish as early as possible next month, a paper which is to be entitled ‘The Blizzard’. . . . One of the main points of value about ‘The Blizzard’ will be the fact that every citizen may obtain a copy, directly the paper is published. The South Polar Times and ‘The Blizzard’ being published at the same ofřce, the Editor reserves the right of producing any article in either, or both, of the above mentioned papers.”
Shackleton recorded the actual production: “Owing to the amount of time occupied in producing řfty copies of this paper, it must necessarily be very limited in size, so the Editor hopes that those who do not řnd their contributions in this number will not be disappointed, for they may appear at some future date. . . . The services of a celebrated artist have been engaged for this work, and the portraits are true to life, even though that may not be the opinion of the subjects themselves, and if they think them unŖattering, they must not blame the artist, but rather the severe weather, which has even affected the ink used in printing, changing it from blue to green, and from green to purple; so if they do not see the delicate contour, the regular features, and the noble expression that their looking glasses would lead them to expect, in these reproductions, they must blame the low temperatures which have of late affected the ofřce machinery.”
But The Blizzard turned out to be a waste basket for The South Polar Times, and it was so inferior an effort that it died after the řrst issue. Scott noted the circumstances: “Before the appearance of the řrst number of the ‘S.P.T.,’ . . . the editor had to face a rather delicate situation . . . the editor’s box . . . was crammed with manuscripts, and though there was not much difřculty in making a selection, there was some danger of wounding the feelings of those literary aspirants whose contributions were rejected. In this dilemma the editor decided to issue a supplementary journal, to be named the ‘Blizzard,’ and one number of this redoubtable publication was produced, but fell so lamentably short of the ‘S.P.T.’ that the contributors realised that their mission in life did not lie in the paths of literary composition, and thereafter the editor’s box contained only what that astute individual required for the original periodical. . . . In mentioning the ‘Blizzard’ I ought to remark that it has redeeming features in some capital line caricatures and a distinctly humourous frontispiece by Barne.”
Armitage chastised the publication and had no lamentation about its fate, “whose contents consisted of poetical effusions rejected by The South Polar Times, [and] did not survive the řrst number.” Armitage nevertheless saw řt to reproduce the illustrations in his book Two Years in the Antarctic (pp. 89, 91, 105, and 119).
The full title of this intriguing bit of ephemera is Never Mind The Blizzard I’m All Right. It has sometimes been referred to as the řrst item printed in the Antarctic, but this may be incorrect, since other materials were likely printed on the ship’s copier before The Blizzard was, even if such items never achieved the distinction of having been “published”, as The Blizzard was said to be. But The Blizzard is foremost among the pages that came off that copier because of its association with The South Polar Times, and because it was, in a sense, the forerunner of the řrst book produced in the Antarctic, Aurora Australis, again with Shackleton as editor, seven years later. Thus The Blizzard is of tangible interest, even if it is constituted by nothing more than the dregs of the řrst issue of The South Polar Times.