Last night, The Royal Scottish Geographical Society was delighted to launch the first book in post by Writer-in-Residence, Jo Woolf. With an invite-only guest list including publishers and editors from Sandstone Press and 60 patrons who had pre-ordered a copy of the book, the launch was a roaring success complete with speeches, fizz and a remarkable themed cake worthy of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ depicting the book’s cover image (see attached picture). Entitled ‘The Great Horizon’, Jo’s debut book recounts some of the most exceptional tales of ‘daring and do’ from the last three centuries, all drawn from the vast archives stored at RSGS headquarters.

Featured in the book are stories from some of the world’s most famous explorers, such as Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, as well as lesser known feats of grand adventure from the likes of Isobel Wylie Hutchison, Karen Darke and Hubert Wilkins. Also included in the book is a feature on Craig Mathieson, one of our current RSGS Explorers-in-Residence who, in 2004, led the first dedicated Scottish Expedition to the South Pole, man-hauling his sledge 730 miles over the Antarctic continent.

Commenting on the event, Jo said: “Tonight’s launch at the RSGS was an emotional celebration of several years’ hard work, discovery and friendship at the RSGS, capped off, quite unexpectedly, by a visit from my two daughters. It was fabulous to see so much support for the book and to have the opportunity to thank the many individuals who have made this book such a marvellous reality”.

Discussing ‘The Great Horizon’, Mike Robinson, RSGS Chief Executive, said:  “Our Writer-in-Residence, Jo Woolf, has dug deep into the RSGS archives, unearthing some truly fascinating stories from some of the world’s most famous explorers. However, perhaps some of the most remarkable tales – verging on unbelievable – come from those who you may have never heard of. We hope that the wonderful insights and vignettes in Jo’s book will encourage people to want to learn more about these great men and women, and perhaps inspire people to head into the outdoors on their own grand adventures”.

Remarking on the book, author Jo Woolf said: “I have been repeatedly amazed, moved, entertained, and uplifted by these stories: the definition of exploration itself may have been re-shaped somewhat over the decades, but the courage and enduring spirit of explorers is still the same. Having spent the last few years digging around in the archives of the RSGS, I want to share some of these extraordinary tales with you in ‘The Great Horizon’”

Jo’s book is published by Sandstone Press (RRP £24.99) and is available to purchase here:

In addition, throughout the winter season, Jo will be discussing the book in a series of illustrated talks across Scotland, incorporated into the RSGS Inspiring People Talks Programme. Details of the talks can be found here:

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