Wright, Charles S. (Charles Seymour), 1887-1975

Alternative names
Birth 1887-04-07
Death 1975-11-01

Biographical notes:

English Antarctic explorer.

From the description of Correspondence, with Prof. W.H. Hobbs, 1927-1949. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34369143

Sir Charles Seymour Wright, KCB, OBE, MC, MA, was born in Canada in 1887. He was educated at Upper Canada College and the University Toronto. He won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, England, undertaking research in cosmic rays at the Cavendish Laboratory. It was while studying in Cambridge that he met Douglas Mawson who had been part of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1908 (leader Ernest Henry Shackleton). Wright applied to join the forthcoming British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott). He was accepted as physicist, and along with five other scientists spent the first winter at Cape Evans studying glacier ice, snow and sea ice. Magnetism, gravity and aurora were added to these studies the subsequent winter. Scott appointed Wright to be a member of the first supporting party on the polar journey with Edward Leicester Atkinson, Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Patrick Keohane. Wright was later part of the search party, which searched for Scott and the missing pole party. On 11 November 1912 he discovered the party's tent on the Ross Ice Shelf.

On returning to England, he lectured in cartography and surveying while also writing up his scientific work. In 1914, he joined the Royal Engineers as a second lieutenant and served in France. He rose to the position of General Staff Officer in wireless intelligence and was awarded the MC and OBE. Wright joined the Admiralty Research Department in 1919, becoming superintendent at Teddington ten years later. Between 1934 and 1936 he was director of scientific research at the Admiralty. He played an important part in the early development of radar and detection of magnetic mines and torpedoes. He received the KCB in 1946 and took the post of chief of the Royal Naval Scientific Service. He took up several positions in subsequent years, firstly as scientific advisor to the Admiral at the British Joint Services Mission, Washington DC, then in 1951, director of the Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at La Jolla, California. He joined the staff at the Pacific Naval Laboratory at Esquimaault, Canada in 1955.

Wright revisited Antarctica in 1960 and 1965. In 1967, he joined the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of British Columbia and Royal Roads Military College, Victoria, British Columbia. In 1969, he retired to Saltspring Island near Victoria in British Columbia. He died on 1 November 1975.

From the guide to the Sir Charles Wright collection, 1910 - 1925, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)


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Ark ID:


  • Oceanography--Photographs
  • Geophysics--Photographs


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  • McMurdo Station (Antarctica) (as recorded)
  • Antarctica Discovery and exploration (as recorded)