A first edition presentation copy of the most famous book of Polar exploration, 'The Worst Journey in the World,' by Apsley Cherry-Garrard is to be auctioned in the Polar Sale at Bonhams
in London on 30 March. It is estimated at £15,000-20,000.
The book was published in 1922, and was a gift from its author to Scott of the Antarctic's widow, Kathleen. She had remarried that year and the book is dedicated in her new name - "Inscribed to Mrs. Hilton Young. With very grateful thanks from Cherry." It is particularly valuable because it contains her hand written, and often forthright, comments on Cherry-Garrard's account of the Scott expedition.
Kathleen Scott was highly protective of her husband's reputation and of his leadership of the expedition which ended, not only in failure to become the first men to reach the South Pole but in the death of Scott and four of his immediate companions Wilson, Evans, Oates and Bowers.
Describing the condition of Scott and his team as they approached their end, Cherry-Garrard writes, "Evans, however, who was considered by Scott to be the strongest man of the party, had already collapsed, and it is admitted that the rest of the party was becoming far from strong. There seems to be an unknown factor here somewhere." This provoked from Kathleen an emphatic pencilled margin note "Rots!"
As a member of the wider expedition team, Cherry-Garrard was responsible for supplying depots with food and fuel on the route to be taken by the main party on their return. He was among those who found Scott's body and those of his companions in November 1912.
Cherry-Garrard had also taken part in an earlier, near fatal, mission with Wilson and Bowers to collect eggs of the Emperor Penguin hoping to establish a link between reptiles and birds by studying the embryos. He describes this in detail in the book and, indeed, it was this journey that gave the work its title rather than the Scott expedition. On his eventual return to Britain in 1913 he was devastated to be told that the eggs were of little or no scientific value since the theory they were designed to support had been disproved in his absence.
His book is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all adventure stories but is also admired as a lasting testament to man's capacity for sacrifice and ability to endure great hardship.