Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of Robert Falcon Scott’s legendary expedition to Antarctica, the last man sent out to meet Captain Scott and his men in February 1912, when they were expected to return victorious any day from the South Pole. He embarked on his own epic journey into the Antarctic winter to collect eggs of the Emperor penguin. It was dark all the time, his teeth shattered, and the tent blew away in the cold. “But we kept our tempers,” he wrote, “even with God.”
After serving in the First World War, with zealous encouragement from his neighbor George Bernard Shaw, Cherry wrote the undisputed masterpiece of polar literature, The Worst Journey in the World. But as the years progressed, he faced a terrible struggle against depression and despair. Sara Wheeler’s Cherry is the first biography of this great hero of Antarctic exploration, written with unrestricted access to his papers and with the full cooperation of his family.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Cherry|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Chapter OneAncestral Voices
In the restless years of middle age Cherry used to sit in the bow-window of his library, turning the pages of the journals he had kept in the Antarctic three decades before. Absorbed in those far-off years, he jotted notes in the margins, as if the expedition had not yet reached its conclusion. 'All Scott's men had been altered,' he wrote crossly. 'Scott should have asked the doctors for their advice.' Beyond the trimmed lawns outside, the familiar figure of Tilbury, the head gardener, stooped over the rhododendrons. The rooks returned to their nests in the elms, briefly darkening the sky. Cherry leafed through the flimsy notebook, recalling the rippled glaciers that tumbled down Mount Erebus, their gleaming cliffs casting long blue shadows; the crunching patter of dogs on the march; the pale, shadowless light of the ice shelf and a smudgy sun wreathed in mist. 'Those first days of sledging were wonderful!' he had written. In the quiet of his library he heard again the hiss of the Primus after a long, hard day on the trail, and smelt the homely infusion of tobacco as the night sun sieved through the green cambric of the tent. He tasted the tea flavored with burnt blubber, and felt the rush of relief as tiny point of light from the kippered hut glimmered faintly in the unforgiving darkness of an Antarctic winter. 'Can we ever forget those days?' he wrote.
Cherry tortured himself over his action in February 1912, when he had driven a team of dogs 150 miles south to a foot depot to wait for Captain Scott and his four companions; they were expected to return from the Pole at any day. Winter was closing in and...