19 Jan

There is a big Antarctic exhibition at the Natural History Museum. This includes the Emperor Penguin eggs that Wilson, ‘Birdie’ Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard brought back at such cost from the Emperor colony at Cape Crozier.

The embryos were not found to prove the theory that Wilson was investigating: a link between birds and early reptiles. He was interested in penguin eggs because he thought that penguins were the most primitive of birds (now known to be untrue). When the eggs were examined years later no support for the suggestion was found

I do not think that Wilson would have minded this. Throughout his life his emphasis was on objective scientific research. He would carefully examine any theory before accepting or rejecting it. This expedition was his scientific investigation, he had hoped to examine a series of eggs at the colony. Had he lived to hear the verdict, no connection proved, he would have accepted this calmly as part of God’s plan


  1. JMS January 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Watching the Ben Fogle documentary on Scott’s hut – also showed Cape Crozier in all its austere beauty and the conditions faced.

    Many people do not know – and will find out in the new book “Edgar Evans – Captain Scott’s Invaluable Assistant” that PO Evans was a key part of the initail exploration to Crozier and foreunner to the “Worst Journey”.

    30 years ago, at school we studied Scott’s dairies and i became immeresed in Antarctic history and especially Edgar Evans. The new book is a must for new and old enthusiasts and does justice to an inspirational and somewhat neglected pioneer.

  2. DAVID MARSLAND February 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson by Isobel Williams

    This is a very interesting and very valuable book. It is a biography of Edward Wilson, doctor, scientist, explorer and artist. It is, however, a biography with a special focus, as indicated in the book’s primary title – “With Scott in the Antarctic”. For Wilson was with Scott on his first journey south in 1901 and he died with Scott on the return journey from the Pole in 1912.

    Drawing on intensive original research, Williams tells the story of the most complex and least well understood of Scott’s heroic companions. Quiet, reflective and religious, Wilson was loved by all who worked with him. His influence over Scott himself was considerable.

    It seems to me that even without his close and crucial involvement with Scott, Wilson would have led a remarkable life. His combination of creativity as a Ruskinian artist of nature, of medical and scientific curiosity and skill, and of adventurous determination to explore the unknown regions of our world was very unusual. When these remarkable talents were put at the service of a man as special as Scott, the effect was bound to be uniquely powerful.

    Williams’ interest in Edward Wilson was stimulated by his medical illustrations and Antarctic landscapes displayed at St George’s hospital, where Williams was a student. My interest in Wilson, Scott, Bowers, Oates and their companions was initiated when I was even younger by that wonderful film “Scott of the Antarctic”. I remember vividly now, decades later, how I wept in a cinema full of weeping young people as we watched the team struggle in adversity towards an unattainable goal and die with rare courage and dignity.

    Since that time, our public understanding of Scott’s glorious expedition has been muddled and mis-led by cynical anti-British sentiment. Without intending it, Williams’ careful, balanced scholarship restores these remarkable men to their proper status. They were British heroes and heroes of mankind in its progress from ignorance to understanding of the world and its awesome mysteries. This is a book to enjoy and to treasure.


  3. isobelpwilliams March 9, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    I think he was tough, practical and funny; a powerful combination. He also was, having explored with Scott in the Discovery expedition and been much involved in the preparations for the Terra Nova expedition,(watching and involved in the exhaustive preparations), totally loyal to his leader. It was as well that he never knew the construction put on his death by some commentators when the news reached London in 1913

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