Books about heroic ‘white blokes’ are under threat, claims Ernest Shackleton expert

Ms Grochowicz has cited figures like Sir Douglas Mawson, the Australian Polar explorer – who was the sole survivor of a fatal mission to the Antarctic – as displaying traditionally “manly” virtues of physical courage and stoicism, which she said are no longer celebrated as they once were.

She said: “This idea we need to shut down the discussion because of toxic masculinity – or we can’t talk about this, or these sex specific qualities – because we are entering a gender-neutral, new way of living: think that is crazy.”

New Zealander Ms Grochowicz has said she is lucky that her chosen subject – explorers of the Heroic Age of South Pole exploration – did not displace any indigenous populations on the frozen wastes, as her subject would be even more unfashionable in modern historical circles.

‘Lost virtue of manliness’

As it is, the author has said that she feels that she can either “defend” her subject, or be forced to move on to more modish areas of study, saying she may have to “start writing about women in some historic period”.

Ms Grochowicz was discussing the “lost virtue of manliness” with retired general Patrick Cordingly, and the pair debated the qualities of explorers who endured hardship and stoic deaths in the Antarctic wastes, including Titus Oates, who walked from Scott’s tent to certain death rather than slow down his comrades.

The pair commented that there had been a “decline in manliness”, but identified certain key virtues in the traditional idea of masculinity, listing strength, emotional restraint, care for the vulnerable, and understatement or humour in the face of adversity, as key qualities.

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