Edward A. Wilson

Assistant Surgeon, Zoologist and Artist

One of the most prominent figures of early Antarctic exploration, Edward Wilson accompanied Captain Scott on both the Discovery and his later ill-fated Terra Nova expedition. Born in Cheltenham he studied zoology at Caius College Cambridge before qualifying in medicine at St. George’s Hospital, London. Shortly after, Wilson became ill with tuberculosis and it was during the long convalescence from this that he practiced and developed his skills as an artist.

In December 1900 Wilson was appointed the ship’s junior surgeon, vertebrate zoologist and artist. Nicknamed ‘Uncle Bill’ his easy manner gained him great respect with the other members of the crew. During the expedition Wilson observed the Antarctic birds and seals, writing and sketching these for publication in the Discovery reports. These collection of water colours were widely acclaimed and remain today as a legacy to Wilson’s skill.

In 1910 Scott appointed Wilson as the chief of scientific staff on board the Terra Nova expedition. Along with Scott he was part of the five man party to reach the South Pole on 18 January 1912. However, harsh conditions meant that tragically none of these men survived the return journey.