A travel writer and GP who has explored both Arctic and Antarctic regions in his books is going to be in Shetland next week to give an illustrated talk in Lerwick.
Gavin Francis will be at the library next Tuesday to discuss his time in the far north and the far south – journeys chronicled in his books True North and Empire Antarctica.
True North begins in Unst, and in the book Shetland provides a springboard for an exploration of Faroe, Iceland, Greenland, Lapland and Svalbard – Europe’s Arctic regions.
Since it was published in 2008, Francis has continued to work as a GP, in Orkney, in Edinburgh and also in the Antarctic, where he spent more than a year at Halley, one of the most remote research stations on the continent.
Empire Antarctica, released last year, is the result of that time. The book is about the silence and solitude of the region, and also about its natural history, particularly the large colony of emperor penguins that lives close by the station.
Francis describes the changes of the seasons – from a summer of perpetual sunshine to three and a half months of winter darkness – as well as the legends of the place, such as the journeys of Scott and Shackleton. He explores the hardship of living at 50 degrees below zero, and also the unexpected comfort that the penguin community bring.
Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has called the book “A valuable addition to polar literature, vividly describing the brutal, but beautiful, realities of undergoing an Antarctic winter”. And writer Robert Macfarlane described it as “A beautifully written love-letter to Antarctica and its inhabitants; a wonderful evocation of companionship, loneliness and discovery on the crystal continent”.
Gavin Francis will give his illustrated talk at Shetland Library on Tuesday 7th August, at 7.30pm.