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History of Edward Wilson

Our school is named after the explorer, Dr Edward Wilson, who accompanied Ernest Shakleton and Captain Robert Scott to the Antarctic as part of the Discovery Expedition and the Terra Nova Expedition. Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham, lived for a while on Bourne Terrace which is opposite our school. 


Edward Wilson was the first scientist to chart the life cycle of Emperor Penguins and is credited for kick-starting the 20 century environmental movement. The children's movie 'Happy Feet' is based on Edward Wilson's discoveries, and the publics eagerness to protect Emperor Penguins' natural habitat.


Unfortunately, Edward Wilson died on the fateful Terra Nova Expedition. Along with Captain Scott, Evans, Bowers and Oates all succumbed to the harsh weather conditions as they struggled to return to their base camp. In Captain Scott's last written letter, he encouraged his wife to raise their son, Peter, in the example led by Edward Wilson. In doing so, Peter Scott did much to campaign and raise awareness around conservationism. 



Overlooking the Great Lake on Observation Hill in Antarctica, where Wilson and the rest of the exploration party died, is a cross inscribed with the final verse of Lord Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses:


Strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."


In 2014 Edward Wilson Primary School adopted this verse to be used as our school moto.



Edward Wilson Facts


The following facts about Edward Wilson were written by our pupils:

• Edward Wilson went on an expedition to the South Pole with Captain Scott in 1911. They got to the South Pole on January 17th 1912 only to find that the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen had got there before them. Five men who went on this expedition and reached the South Pole – Scott, Wilson, Oates, Evans and Bowers – died on the way back.


• Edward Wilson was not just an explorer. He was an artist, a doctor and a scientist.
He first went to the Antarctic between 1901 and 1904. On this expedition he tried to collect Emperor Penguin eggs, but when he got to them he found that they had already hatched into chicks.



• Edward Wilson first worked as a doctor in London. He caught an illness called Tuberculosis which meant he had to stop work and spend a lot of time resting. It was during this time that he learnt to paint.


• Edward Wilson was born in Cheltenham in 1872. There is a statue of him in Cheltenham.


If you want to find out more, you can visit the following websites:

LGfLs Polar Expedition

Edward Wilson's ground-breaking watercolours | Natural History Museum