SCOTT, ROBERT FALCON. (1868-1912). English Antarctic explorer. ALS. (“R. Scott”). 3pp. 8vo. N.p., (September 17, 1908). On HMS Bulwark, Channel Fleet stationery. To Mrs. [Wilson] Noble, wife of barrister, member of parliament and automobile enthusiast Wilson Noble (1854-1917).
A Letter from the Famed English Antarctic Explorer on the Subject of His Wedding and Honeymoon
Signed by Robert Falcon Scott
“I was in such a bustle before the wedding that I simply could not attempt to express my gratitude for your charming wedding present. After the great event we fled to Étretat [in France] and refused for a week to consider posts or pens. And so it is that only now I am able to tell you how delighted I am with the whiskey bottle which is not only very handsome but just exactly supplies the want of a small household. It is indeed kind & generous of you to have sent it and this gift must ever be valued for the friendship which suggested it. It was very nice of you and your husband to come to the wedding and I’m so glad you’ve had a glimpse of my young lady but I hope you won’t forget how much she wants to know you better and that she if not I will usually be found at 174 Buckingham Palace Road. I hope the young ladies have been thoroughly enjoying themselves at Dieppe. Once more thank you a thousand times for your magnificent present and believe me ever yours sincerely…”
Scott’s fame began with his first Antarctic voyage on board the Discovery from 1901-1904 during which time he became the first person to ascend in a hot air balloon over Antarctica, naming the territory he explored in honor of the reigning English monarch, King Edward VII. His adventures were recorded in The Voyage of Discovery, whose publication in 1905 made him very well known.
On September 2, 1908, Scott married English sculptor Kathleen Bruce (1878-1947) after a tumultuous courtship in which his romantic rival was the secretary of novelist J.M. Barrie, Gilbert Cannan, who became a prolific novelist himself. Bruce counted among her social circle Barrie, Auguste Rodin, Isadora Duncan, Max Beerbohm, and George Bernard Shaw. Bruce and Scott were married at Hampton Court Palace and their only child, Peter Markham Scott (1909-1989) was notable for founding the conservation philanthropy World Wild Life Fund for Nature.
Scott’s second – and fatal – expedition to Antarctica on board the Terra Nova, commenced on June 1, 1910, and later evolved into a race against the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen attained the pole on January 4, 1912, beating Scott by two weeks. Scott’s expedition ended tragically when he and his four companions perished on their failed march back to a supply depot. At the time of our letter, Scott was commander of the London class HMS Bulwark, then part of the Channel Fleet defending the English Channel. Written on a folded sheet and in fine condition.