Wilson, Edward, 1872-1912

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Edward Adrian Wilson was born in Cheltenham, England on 23 July 1872, second son of a respected Cheltenham medical practitioner. He was educated at Cheltenham College and studied natural science and medicine at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and St. George's Hospital, London. In 1898, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent several months convalescing in Norway and Switzerland, giving him the opportunity to hone his skills as a watercolour artist and wildlife illustrator. After qualifying in medicine in 1900, Wilson practised at Cheltenham Hospital, where in 1901 he was appointed Junior House Surgeon. Later in the same year he was selected to join the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), as junior surgeon and zoologist. Less than a month before his departure to the Antarctic, he married Oriana Souper. Whilst on this expedition, he accompanied Scott and Ernest Henry Shackleton on a major sledge journey, exploring inland across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole. On 30 December 1902, the party reached 82°17'S, their farthest south. Wilson's abilities in accurately illustrating both topography and wildlife on the expedition were invaluable and his skills as confidant and mediator were equally valued.

On his return to England in 1904, Wilson wrote up and published his zoological data, and was commissioned to illustrate books on British birds and mammals. He was appointed as principal field-observer, anatomist and physiologist to the Board of Agriculture's investigation into the cause of grouse disease on British moor lands.

In 1909, Wilson was again approached by Scott to accompany him on the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913, as chief of the scientific staff. During the winters at Cape Evans on Ross Island, he sketched and painted many Antarctic landscapes, the majority of which are now held in the archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge. He led a winter sledging journey with Henry Robertson Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Cape Crozier to collect emperor penguin embryos, and was selected by Scott for the long sledging journey to the South Pole. On 17 January 1912, Wilson, along with Scott, Henry Robertson Bowers, Lawrence Edward Grace Oates and Edgar Evans, attained the Pole only to find that the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911. On the return journey, the weakened party faced exceptionally unfavourable weather and sledging conditions. Wilson died with Scott and Bowers in late March 1912, laid up in a blizzard 11 miles short of One Ton Depot.

Published works, Diary of the Terra Nova expedition 1910-1912, An account of Scott's last expedition edited from the original mss. in the Scott Polar Research Institute and the British Museum by H.G.R. King, Blandford Press, London (1972) UDC number (7) 91(08)[1910-1913 Scott] 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, Blandford Press, London (1966) UDC number (7) 91(08)[1901-1904 Scott]

From the guide to the Edward Adrian Wilson collection, 1842-1913, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sidney Harmer collection, 1922 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn James William Dell collection, 1908-1922 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Edward Adrian Wilson collection, 1842-1913 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Sir Charles Wright collection, 1910 - 1925 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn British National Antarctic Expedition collection, 1899-1964 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Apsley Cherry-Garrard collection, 1910-1950 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn C Court Treatt collection, 1913 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Letter of Edward A. Wilson (1872-1912), 1909 Edinburgh University Library
referencedIn Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton collection, 1874-1992 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Ida Wilson collection, 1915-1962 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Sir Charles William Rawson Royds collection, 1901-1903 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Reginald Smith collection, 1905-1916 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Sir Humphry Rolleston collection, 1901 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Edward Thomas Wilson collection, 1910-1914 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Edward Adrian Wilson collection, 1842-1913 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Reginald Skelton collection, 1899 - 1950 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913). Field photographs, 1910-1913. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Henry Bowers collection, 1840-1951 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Mary Agnes Wilson collection, 1912 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Robert Falcon Scott collection, 1889-1966 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Oriana Wilson collection, 1901-1929 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913, 1885-1913 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Henry Feilden collection, 1876-1917 Scott Polar Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard person
associatedWith Bowers Henry Robertson 1883-1912 person
associatedWith British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913) corporateBody
associatedWith British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904 corporateBody
associatedWith C Court Treatt corporateBody
associatedWith Cherry-Garrard Apsley George Benet 1886-1959 person
associatedWith Discovery (Steam yacht) corporateBody
associatedWith Edward Adrian Wilson person
associatedWith Edward Thomas Wilson person
associatedWith Evans Edgar d 1913 person
associatedWith Fraser John 1858-1927 person
associatedWith Henry Robertson Bowers and others person
associatedWith Henry Wemyss Feilden person
associatedWith James William Dell person
associatedWith Mary Agnes Wilson person
associatedWith Oates Lawrence Edward Grace 1880-1912 person
associatedWith Reginald John Smith person
associatedWith Reginald William Skelton person
associatedWith Robert Falcon Scott and others person
associatedWith Scott Kathleen 1878-1947 person
associatedWith Scott Robert Falcon 1868-1912 person
associatedWith Sidney Frederic Harmer person
associatedWith Sir Charles Seymour Wright person
associatedWith Sir Charles William Rawson Royds person
associatedWith Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and others person
associatedWith Sir Humphry Davy Rolleston person
associatedWith Wilson, Edward A. person
associatedWith Wilson, Ida person
associatedWith Wilson, Oriana person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Antarctica Discovery and exploration
Subject
Zoology Research
Ornithology
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1872-07-23

Death 1912-03-29

Britons

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