Lawrence “Titus” Oates was the epitome of the Victorian English gentleman – an aristocratic member of the Landed Gentry, a pupil at Eton and an officer in an elite cavalry regiment. He was immortalised on Scott’s tragic last expedition when he crawled to his death in a blizzard to save his comrades, uttering the most famous last words of all time - “I am just going outside and may be some time”.
But a different story lies beneath the surface.
Oates was dominated by his formidable mother and rebelled against the stuffy social customs of the times. After 10 years in the cavalry, he became disenchanted with the army and paid money from his own pocket to join Scott’s attempt to reach the South Pole in 1912.
But Oates was an outsider on the ill-fated expedition and clashed with Scott. His diaries and letters provide a starkly different and alternative perspective to the traditional myth of heroic failure by unlucky explorers. Even the motives behind his self-sacrifice can now be challenged.
There was a second tragedy in the life of Oates, which has remained a closely guarded secret for 100 years: Oates went to his death without knowing that he was a father.
This thorough portrait of a privileged life and tragic death.
This is both a riveting tale of exploration and a tantalising portrait of a man cast in the mould of the Boy’s Own Hero.
Coventry Evening Telegraph
The biography is highly readable, very well researched with much new material…
Smith is an assiduous researcher…
Sara Wheeler, Daily Telegraph
With I Am Just Going Outside, Michael Smith has greatly deepened our understanding of the main figures in the heroic age of Polar exploration and drawn what should stand as the most rounded picture we are likely to get of the short, unfulfilled life of Captain Lawrence Oates.
Daily Ymoiuri, Tokyo
This is a revealing study of a flawed and complex hero, that is compelling and in places, startling…
Eastern Daily Press
Smith’s remarkable book is an indispensable addition to Polar history.
Ireland on Sunday
Smith has delivered a gripping read with his superb economy of style and with superb presentation.
This is a fascinating story beautifully told and hard to put down.
…this fascinating book…
Michael Smith divulges a heart-rending story of endurance, bravery and folly.
Country House & Home
Reading this book shatters a lot of illusions…
Dublin Historical Record