This is the winner of Scottish book of the year award 2013. Gavin Francis fulfilled a lifetime's ambition when he spent fourteen months as the base-camp doctor at Halley, a profoundly isolated British research station on the Caird Coast of Antarctica. So remote, it is said to be easier to evacuate a casualty from the International Space Station than it is to bring someone out of Halley in winter. Antarctica offered a year of unparalleled silence and solitude, with few distractions and very little human history, but also a rare opportunity to live among emperor penguins, the only species truly at home in the Antarctic. Following the penguins throughout the year - from a summer of perpetual sunshine to months of winter darkness - Gavin Francis explores a world of great beauty conjured from the simplest elements, the hardship of living at 50degreeC below zero and the unexpected comfort that the penguin community bring. Empire Antarctica is the story of one man and his fascination with the world's loneliest continent, as well as the emperor penguins who weather the winter with him. Combining an evocative narrative with a sublime sensitivity to the natural world, this is travel writing at its very best.
Gavin Francis was born in 1975 and brought up in Fife, Scotland. After qualifying from medical school in Edinburgh he spent ten years travelling, visiting all seven continents. He has worked in Africa and India, made several trips to the Arctic, and crossed Eurasia and Australasia by motorcycle. His first book, True North, was published in 2008. He has lectured at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, the Edinburgh Book Festival, and is a regular speaker at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He lives in Edinburgh. www.gavinfrancis.com