26 Jul

‘Had We Lived’ has at its centre, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, the leader of the dog team that took supplies for the returning Polar party. The blurb about this book on Amazon has some sentences that merit comment.

Three quotes are given in order of appearance!!

1) He died in 1959, still regretting having abandoned the men he admired and loved most in the world.

‘Abandon’ implies that Cherry-Garrard knew the returning party was alive, a fact that, however much he might have wished it, he could not have known. Cherry-Garrard, inexperienced in both navigation and dog driving, was sent to One Ton with Dimitri Gerof because the only other man who could have gone, Silas Wright, was needed for scientific work. Cherry’s orders from Dr Atkinson were to take dog food and food for the men to One Ton Camp. He was informed that Scott was not dependent on the dogs for his return. Also, that the dogs were not to be risked but saved for the following year. At One Ton the dog food was low, the weather was bad, to push further South over the featureless plain would have been pointless and Cherry would have felt this, but, devoted as he was to the Polar Party, particularly to Wilson and Bowers, he might have done so if it were not for his orders. He obeyed these.

2) Cherry’s childhood and young manhood in Lamer, their stately home in Surrey.

Lamer is in Hertfordshire. Part of it still remains. Cherry inherited from his father, General Cherry who had inherited the estate from his father-in-law on condition the family assumed the name of Garrard. So they became Cherry-Garrard in 1892. When Cherry wrote the ‘Worst Journey’, he consulted with his friend George Bernard Shaw, a well-km=known Hertfordshire resident, who lived near by.

3) The second part of the novel leaps forward to 1958. Cherry is now old and suffering from physical and psychological damage caused by guilt and regret, feelings which have haunted him since the failure of Scott’s expedition. 

This may well be true but there may be genetic factors that caused depression also. Cherry’s cousin Reginald Smith 1857 -1916 (of the publishing company Smith Elder) committed suicide in 1916 having suffered from depression for years. He was known to have suicidal tendencies. Thus, there may have been a familial tendency to depression in the family.





















  1. Gary Gregor, Swansea July 31, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I agree with the ocmments from Dr Williams. It is misleading and incorrect to say Cherry-Garrard died ‘having abandoned the men’. He had not abandoned anyone – he was under firm orders not to risk the welfare of the dogs by staying longer at One Ton Depot. Had he moved further south to try to locate the Polar Party, the chances of locating them were as remote as searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. After his marriage his wife endeavoured to assure Cherry that he was not to blame any ‘failure’ to rescue Scott, Bowers and Wilson.
    Cherry’s account and reflections on the 1910 Expedition in his classic ‘The Worst Journey in the world’ (written when he had been invalided home from the trenches, with the title chosen by the publishers, not by Cherry) is his legacy to the memory of Scott and his companions: what is suggested on the cover of this new book does not enhance that.

    • isobel williams August 3, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Thank you for your perceptive cpmments. I feel that if Cherry had read he had ‘abandoned’ the two men he cared for most in the world, he really would have been suicida,l well before the ‘Terra Nova’ reached British waters. I think his depression was due to a combination of circumstances

  2. John Atkins August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Seems to me your criticisms around Cherry’s feeling that he had ‘abandoned’ Scott etc are misplaced. Jopling goes to great length to explore and explain all this in what is, after all, a novel.

    • isobelpwilliams August 9, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Thank you. My whole comment relates to the blurb, (which is often what most people come across) and I feel the blurb gives a misleading impression of the book and the whole tragedy

  3. Richard Jopling September 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Thank you for taking an interest in my novel – or Amazon’s blurb at least. Of course the point is that it is a novel and as such employs the use of conjecture and imagination. No one can truly know the state of Cherry’s mind at the point when he entered Scott’s last tent and realised just how close he had been when he left One Ton Depot with Dimitri. Having said that I can understand the objection to the use of the word ‘abandoned.’ Of course the comments that he was under orders, couldn’t practically have gone on, had not enough dog food,had Dimitri ill on him etc are perfectly valid. It would have been very unwise indeed to have pushed on in the circumstances he found himself. Also, it would have been perfectly reasonable, at that point in time, to assume that either the pole party were either dead in a crevasse or were pushing on perfectly well.
    However, when he returned in the spring and found them dead he realised the truth. Then what would his feelings have been? In the novel I suggest that he would have experienced feelings of guilt however irrational those feelings would have been and those feelings would have been fanned by the criticism of arm chair critics back at home. So the use of the word ‘abandoned’ is used to reflect Cherry’s feelings and is not a judgement made on him.
    How did he feel about it all in later life? Of course there were other factors which contributed to his strange ill health and it is a fair point to make about his cousin Reggie Smith who suffered from depression ( I do touch on this in the novel) but we do know that the whole experience had a deep and traumatic effect on Cherry ( See ‘Worst Journey in the World.’)
    Finally, thanks for pointing out that Lamer was in Hertfordshire and not Surrey. I do know this but for the purposes of the novel I decided to move it to Surrey. I have tried to keep as closely to the facts as we know them (particularly in regard to Scott’s last expedition) but I acknowledge my limitations as an historian. If you want a really good biography then I recommend Sara Wheeler’s book ‘Cherry.’

    • isobelpwilliams September 17, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      I am pleased to hear from you and accept your explanation. The whole point of my objection related to the blurb which stated that Cherry had ‘abandoned’ his friends. Since many readers will not get beyond the blurb I feel that this is a comment that could stick – to the detriment of Cherry’s reputation- Maybe this comment could be expanded?
      I am interested that you could think that I might not have not read Sarah Wheeler’s biography on Cherry!! I enjoyed it greatly.

      • Richard Jopling September 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

        I would hate it to be thought that I was in any way critical of Cherry in my book. He was greatly admired by Scott, Wilson and Birdie and everybody on the expedition. However he was a complex character who suffered much in later life and he found the new world troubling.
        May I send you a copy of the book and you can make an informed judgement on whether I have come close to the man?

  4. Isobel williams September 30, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I have the book but a signed copy would be lovely!!

    • Richard Jopling October 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      It would be an honour to send you a signed copy. Please let me have a postal address so that I may send it.

      • isobel williams October 3, 2012 at 6:04 am #

        I cannot do this through the multimedia!! If you send me your personal e-mail I will give details, or send a copy of your book to be forwarded to me to The History Press, my publishers, as several people have done Their address. The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud.u Glos. GL5 2QG Isobel

        > Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2012 19:29:57 +0000 > To: munchkinipw@gmail.com >

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