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Diary of the “Discovery” Expedition to the Antarctic Regions 1901-1904


Edward Wilson.

Illustrated with the author’s 47 watercolours and many drawings. Uncommon in this fine condition.


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Edward Adrian Wilson, Diary of the “Discovery” Expedition to the Antarctic Regions 1901-1904, edited from the original mss. in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, by Ann Savours (London: Blandford Press, 1966). First Edition, hardcover bound in black cloth with bright gilt titling on spine and front cover, dust jacket illustrated with a Wilson watercolour,   416 pp., quarto, 25 x 19 cm, colour frontispiece portrait of EA Wilson by AU Soord, profusely illustrated with 47 of Wilson’s watercolours and many of his monochrome drawings, pencil drawings, sketches, prints and plans, accompanied by seven maps, one of them a pull-out printed in red and black on pale blue paper. Foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh, Acknowledgments, List of illustrations and maps, Introduction, Note on the text and illustrations, The Journal, Appendices, References, Index. Inside dust jacket neatly price clipped.

Condition: Fine, virtually “as new”.

The English physician, polar explorer, painter, natural historian and ornithologist Edward Wilson (1872-1912), was a member of two British Antarctic expeditions—the ‘Discovery’ and the ‘Terra Nova’ (1910-1913) expeditions, both led by Robert Falcon Scott. The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904, known as the ‘Discovery’ expedition, also included Ernest Shackleton. It was the first official British Antarctic exploration since that of Sir James Clark Ross in 1839-1843. Wilson had multiple roles in the ‘Discovery’ expedition, acting as surgeon, artist and zoologist. In November 1902 Scott, Wilson and Shackleton endured a gruelling trek which nearly claimed their lives, travelling more than 480 km further south than any before them. They reached the Discovery and safety nearly four months later.

In August 1901 Wilson inscribed his Diary as “written primarily for my wife”. It is clearly written, mainly in pencil, in three large leather-bound volumes. Wilson made a copy of each page and sent home sheaves as opportunities arose during the expedition. The Diary, which thus became a chronicle, with detailed descriptions of scenery and explanations of events, was bequeathed to the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, by Wilson’s widow, Oriana, in 1943.