Books by Katherine Macinnes

Snow Widows

The men of Captain Scott’s Polar Party were heroes of their age, enduring tremendous hardships to further the reputation of the Empire they served by reaching the South Pole. But they were also husbands, fathers, sons and brothers.

For the first time, the story of the race for the South Pole is told from the perspective of the women whose lives would be forever changed by it, five women who offer a window into a lost age and a revealing insight into the thoughts and feelings of the five heroes.

Kathleen Scott, the fierce young wife of the expedition leader, campaigned relentlessly for Scott’s reputation, but did her ambition for glory drive her husband to take unnecessary risks? Oriana Wilson, a true help-mate and partner to the expedition’s doctor, was a scientific mind in her own right and understood more than most what the men faced in Antarctica. Emily Bowers was a fervent proponent of Empire, having spent much of her life as a missionary teacher in the colonies. The indomitable Caroline Oates was the very picture of decorum and everything an Edwardian woman aspired to be, but she refused all invitations to celebrate her son Laurie’s noble sacrifice. Lois Evans led a harder life than the other women, constantly on the edge of poverty and forced to endure the media’s classist assertions that her husband Taff, the sole ‘Jack Tar’ in a band of officers, must have been responsible for the party’s downfall. Her story, brought to light through new archival research, is shared here for the first time.

In a gripping and remarkable feat of historical reconstruction, Katherine MacInnes vividly depicts the lives, loves and losses of five women shaped by the unrelenting culture of Empire and forced into the public eye by tragedy. It also reveals the five heroes, not as the caricatures of legend, but as the real people they were.



Listen to a sample of the audio book read by actress Jane McDowell


Maxtone-Graham reviewed Snow Widows for The Times


and Sarah Wheeler for the Spectator

Woman with the Iceberg Eyes: Oriana F. Wilson

Captain Scott's expedition to the Antarctic, the most famous story of exploration in the world, played out on the great ice stage in the south. Oriana Wilson, wife of Scott's best friend and fellow explorer Dr Edward Wilson, was watching from the wings. She is the missing link between many of the notable polar names of the time and was allowed into a man's world at a time when the British suffragettes were marching. Oriana is the lens through which their secrets are revealed. What really happened both in the Antarctic and at home? Why did Scott's Terra Nova expedition nearly end in mutiny before it had even begun? Were the explorers' diaries as 'heroic' as they appeared to be? Only Oriana can tell. She began as a dutiful housewife but emerged as a scientist and collector in her own right, and was the first white woman to venture into the jungles of Darwin, Australia. Edward Wilson named Oriana Ridge, a little-known piece of Antarctica, after her on their tenth wedding anniversary. Oriana Wilson has been quiet for a century, but this biography gives her a voice and provides a unique insight into the early twentieth century through her clear, blue 'iceberg eyes'.


Behind Everest


In Behind Everest, the author embarks on a captivating exploration that intertwines the remarkable life of Ruth Mallory, wife of legendary Everest climber George Mallory, with her own parallel journey a century later. As Kate delves into Ruth's life, a profound revelation emerges — the Mallorys' connection to the aftermath of the First World War and Ruth's unwavering commitment to the League of Nations. Ruth's role in this global organisation is a lens through which Kate examines the evolving attitudes towards universal experiences of risk and responsibility.


Using two decades of meticulous research, the author unveils the real story behind Ruth and George Mallory's marriage, shedding light on George's relationships with women such as Jelly d'Aranyi, Mary Ann O'Malley, and Stella Cobden-Sanderson. Stella, like Ruth, hailed from Arts and Crafts 'royalty', and both women were daughters of strong feminists. However, Ruth, uniquely, chose to climb, eventually becoming a founder member of the Pinnacle Club, the first all-female rock climbing club in the UK.


Kate's quest to understand Ruth takes her through archives, interviews with Ruth's friends and relatives, and private collections. It is a journey that leads her to the precise routes her husband climbed and, ultimately, those she climbed herself with the Pinnacle Club experts. As Kate experiences the challenges and triumphs of rock climbing, she discovers not only the elusive 'key' to George Mallory but also an inspiring and resilient companion in Ruth.


This book transcends the confines of Everest and 1924, offering readers a profound glimpse into the 'real' story of the Mallorys. Through Ruth's lens, the book explores the complexities of marriage, the indomitable spirit of early female climbers, and the enduring impact of historical events on individual lives. This is a non-fiction masterpiece that intertwines personal and historical narratives, inviting readers to scale the heights of human experience and resilience.