Myocum author's tale of women in Antarctica launched today
RENOWNED Myocum author, Jesse Blackadder, launches her newest book today, Chasing the Light, a novel which has taken her three years to put together.
Ms Blackadder, who won the 2011-2012 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship, spent six weeks on an Antarctic voyage and visited Davis Station in Antarctica, as part of the research for her novel about the first women to reach the icy continent.
Her research into the first female arrivals on Antarctica, and the earlier women who applied unsuccessfully to join the great expeditions of the heroic era - including those of Mawson, Scott and Shackleton - won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2012.
"I had no idea that hundreds of women had applied to Antarctic expeditions in the early twentieth century," she said.
"Around 1300 women applied to a single British expedition in 1937. Not one was accepted."
Determined to learn more about the first women to reach Antarctica, Jesse visited Norway to investigate the archives - and found new evidence about the first women to land on Antarctica.
"The only women who made it to Antarctica before the late 1940s were a group of Norwegians who travelled on the resupply vessel for the Norwegian whaling fleet," Ms Blackadder said.
"One of them was Ingrid Christensen, a 38-year-old mother of six who left her children behind to go to Antarctica four times. This real woman became the central character of my novel."
The novel focuses on Ingrid and the others on the journey to Antarctica with her, and their struggles and successes as pioneering women.
Ms Blackadder said the journey to the icy continent was important for her as a novelist, and was an experience she will never forget.
"It was really important to make the voyage be it gave me a strong sense of what it would have been like for my characters. Some things haven't changed."
"I had the good fortune that the part of Antarctica I went to was the same part these women went to. I saw the flagpole they'd put there, that was really special."
Ms Blackadder said the Antarctic landscape was almost indescribable.
"It's very wild; it's very stark and beautiful. It's wild and remote, and very different in a beautiful way."