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    Winter's Tales

    Published on 09/07/2014 by David Birkett

    In 1908, as Ernest Shackleton and his crew huddled against the dark Antarctican Winter, the explorer persuaded his men to produce a series of books. Shackleton’s intention was to ward off the mental instability to which such conditions make people prone, and the resulting volumes became the first books to be published in Antarctica. Of the 75-100 copies that emerged, 30 were covered in pieces of packing cases and bound in skin from the seals the crew caught to eat and use for fuel. The Alexander Turnbull Library, part of The National Library of New Zealand, is currently offering a rare public viewing of one if these books. The library has three bound copies, one of which still bears the word ‘bean’ from the packing case, while another carries the legend ‘julienne soup’ and the third, - acquired last year for $37,000 – is characterised by the numeral 3. The books are anthologies of original poetry and prose.

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