Chief of scientific staff and biologist
Terra Nova 1910-13
Edward Wilson - "Uncle Bill" - is one of the most prominent figures
of early Antarctic exploration because of his easy manner and the great
respect he received from the men he worked with, because of the paintings
and drawings he made and because he was one of the five men making up
Scott's team that reached the South Pole, but died on the return journey.
He was born in Cheltenham, England, and educated
at Cheltenham College, then moving on to Caius College Cambridge
where he read Zoology before qualifying in medicine at St. George's
Hospital London. Shortly after he qualified as a doctor, Wilson
became ill with tuberculosis and it was during the long
convalescence from this illness that he practiced and developed his
skills as an artist.
In 1901, Wilson applied to be doctor on Scott's
Discovery Expedition to Antarctica, he was the second doctor to be appointed, originally because there was to be a detached
landing party separate from the main expedition - this never happened
however and both doctors stayed with the expedition. He was not
fully recovered from his illness when first appointed, but Scott saw
his potential and took him on as vertebrate zoologist and artist as
well as doctor.
Expeditions, then and now take doctors, but it is
expected that with the high level of fitness of the men, the doctor
should have relatively little to do in the way of medicine, with the
exception of accidents or the unforeseen, so there is always a
secondary occupation that the doctor can fulfil until such time that
the medical skills are needed. Wilson's specific job was to deal
with the birds and seals that the Expedition came across and to
write the appropriate section for publication in the report of the
expedition. A more lasting and more widely acclaimed legacy was the
collection of water colour pictures that he made during this and the
next expedition. E. A.
Statue of Edward Wilson, in
Cheltenham town centre.
The plinth reads:
Edward Wilson of the British Antarctic Expedition
reached the South Pole on January 17th 1912 and died
with Captain Scott on the Great Ice Barrier in March
Photo - Adrian Pingstone 200
Landmarks named after Edward Wilson
Description: A group of scattered hills, nunataks and ridges
that extend NW-SE for about 70 mi between Matusevich Glacier and
Pryor Glacier. Discovered by Lt. H.L.L. Pennell, RN, on the Terra
Nova in Feb. 1911 during Scott's last expedition.
Description: A large piedmont glacier extending from Granite
Harbor to Marble Point on the coast of Victoria Land. Discovered by
the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-04, but not named
until the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1910-13.
Description: A bold, rocky, snow-covered cape, forming the SE
end of the Nash Range and marking the northern entrance point to
Shackleton Inlet on the western edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.
Discovered by Capt. Robert F. Scott, RN, in December 1902, on his
attempted trip to the South Pole. He was accompanied on this trip by
Lt. (later Sir) Ernest H. Shackleton, RNR, and Dr. Edward A. Wilson.