George Murray Levick’s notebook

22 Oct

Levick, a Royal Naval surgeon, was granted leave of absence to join the ‘Terra Nova’ expedition of 1910. He was the medical officer on Lieutenant Victor Campbell’s ‘Northern Party’. Campbell’s brief was to establish a second base for scientific research whilst Scott’s party aimed at the Pole. The party landed and wintered near Cape Adare and were transferred subsequently (on ‘Terra Nova’), 200 miles south. The plan was for the ship to take the six-man party back to the main base before the winter of 1912. As was all too common, the ship could not break through the ice to pick up the group who were destined to spend seven awful months in a small snow cave and on horribly short rations. In September 2012 they sledged the 200 miles to their base at Cape Evans
But Levick had found his vocation. He observed, recorded and wrote about the habits of the Adélie penguins that were so much part of their lives. He became the diarist of their world. Some of his diaries are in the Scott Polar Research Institute; apparently still giving off that distinctive smell of the blubber the party cooked with and ate. His book ‘Antarctic Penguins’ became a standard work (though some of his observations on the sex lives of the penguins was considered unsuitable for publication).
Meredith Hooper, an authority on Antarctica, in her book ‘The Longest Winter’, has documented the travails of the expedition.
Now, one of Levick’s notebooks, previously engulfed by Antarctic snow has appeared, released by snowmelts around Scott’s hut at Cape Evans. After conservation work, the notebook is remarkably legible, listing details of the photographic images Levick took at Cape Adare. These are of interest to Polar enthusiasts because they can be cross-referenced with the records in the Scott Polar.
Negatives and of course Shackleton’s whisky have also been found fairly recently.
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