This short chapter opens with a scene set in 1911, in which Antarctic explorers from throughout the British Empire listen to a recording of the era’s most famous cave man in their hut near the South Pole. This demonstrates how the cave man had been insinuated into global popular culture. The introduction then briefly sketches the character’s genesis, noting the importance of popular evolutionary theories and especially Charles Darwin, the role played by the cartoonist Edward Tennyson ‘E.T.’ Reed and the international influence of his drawings. The use of the term ‘cave man’ to refer to these ancient humans is discussed as are issues surrounding gender and race. Finally, a short note about primary sources discusses how digitisation and searchable databases have revolutionised the ways in which popular culture can be explored, reconstructed and understood.
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