Heather Rossiter

The Boy from Adelaide, C. T. Madigan

This is an edited version of a paper presented at Aurora Expedition Symposium, University of Adelaide, 26 February 2014 to celebrate the centenary of the return of SY Aurora to Adelaide February 1914

The Boy from Adelaide, C. T. Madigan - cover image

The Antarctic Diaries of C.T. Madigan, transcribed by J.W. Madigan and published in 2012 as Madigan's Account: the Mawson Expedition, present a new perspective on the AAE 1911-1914. While the narrative of major events is familiar, emphasis and interpretation in Madigan's diaries undermine much of the mythology created around the expedition.

This author has previously argued that during the Heroic Era diaries were the most authoritative form of reporting Antarctic experience. Madigan's dairies not only record his experience; unintentionally they also record his changing awareness as events modified the way he perceived and understood Antarctica and the expedition. Educators refer to changes in perception and understanding as 'learning'. Much of Madigan's 'learning' was painful.

A diary is not only an authoritative record of experience; it is also a log of a changing persona as what is experienced transforms the self. In his diaries, Madigan both consciously and unconsciously reveals changes in his character and personality. The experiences that effected this transformation were sometimes tragic, others more benign. These will be examined.

Madigan returned from Antarctica in 1914 a very different person from the naïve, trusting young man who left Adelaide in 1911. His considerable contribution to the expedition is briefly examined.

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The Boy from Adelaide, C. T. Madigan

May 2015
16 pages


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