‘Sir Clements Markham RGS: success or failure?’ by Isobel Williams
Our last Talk of the 2021-22 season, on Wednesday, 20 April, is by Isobel Williams. Isobel is a retired Consultant in Respiratory Medicine. While qualifying at St George’s Hospital, University of London, where Edward Wilson, Robert Scott’s friend and confidant, had trained some sixty-five years previously, she saw many of Wilson’s iconic pictures of Antarctica and became fascinated by the continent and the explorers of the early 1900s. She has written several books about them and speaks regularly on Antarctic subjects and Antarctic heroes.
Sir Clements Robert Markham (1830 -1916) was an English geographer, explorer, and writer. He was secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) between 1863 and 1888 and later served as the Society’s president for a further 12 years. In the latter capacity, he was responsible for organising the British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901–1904, and for launching the polar career of Robert Scott.
Critical assessments after his death referred to the dictatorial manner in which Markham had run the RGS. In time, questions would be raised about the accuracy of some of his writings. Markham’s writings on naval history have been criticised by modern scholars due to his nationalistic exaggeration of English sailors’ achievements. Scott remained his protégé until the former’s death in 1912 and although Markham was also a strong supporter of Shackleton, his opposition to other Antarctic expeditions was subsequently described as “malicious”. He was criticised generally as having “an unrivalled capacity for misrepresentation, scurrilities, slanders and vindictiveness”!
Coffee will be served from 10.15am, with the main talk beginning at 11am sharp, and lunch from 12.30pm.
Lunch & Talk ticket price: £18 (Members) & £20 (Guests)
Talk only ticket price: £10 – FREE for first-time visitors
Cheques payable to ‘English-Speaking Union’ should be sent no later than Thursday, 14 April to:
ESU Luncheon Secretary, 3 Stonemasons Yard, Salisbury SP1 2HX
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