Tuesday, March 20, 2012

~Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks~

Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’D.M. Wilson and C.J. Wilson, 2011, Reardon Publishers, Cheltenham.
Published by Reardon Publishing, Cheltenham, at the end of October 2011, the ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’ was launched by Sir David Attenborough at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre (the last visionary centre created by Sir Peter Scott, the son of Captain Robert Falcon Scott) in Barnes, London. Sir David was particularly taken by the sketch, in the book, that Uncle Ted drew of the Black Flag on Ski left at the South Pole by the Norwegian Party led by Roald Amundsen, stating it showed the true and amazing character of Edward Wilson that he could calmly draw this flag even though the party would have been disappointed at not reaching the South Pole first. Of course ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’ was the follow up book to my brother David and my book ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ also published by Reardon Publishers, back in 2004.  The idea of the ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ had come about because so many already knew of Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, but few actually knew that he was one of the world’s most outstanding scientist’s and leading wildlife painter’s of that era from his work in Europe and whose gifts and talent were at the forefront of changes taking place in the early twentieth century Science and Art communities.  When the ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ were published in 2004, not only did David and I get numerous requests in relation to lecturing on this role model of the Antarctic Heroic Age, but also questions as to when we were going to produce an ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’. And so the idea of the second book materialised. Meanwhile I was working away at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, Ireland’s premier wildfowl reserve and the home of the Greenland White-fronted Goose, that species first described by Sir Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and as mentioned the son of Captain Robert F. Scott. In 2000 I spent a year working for the National Parks in South Australia, (where I had great fun setting up bird count areas and butterfly monitoring walk amongst many other projects), and on my return I was contracted to ‘Lecture’ and be the ‘On-board Ornithologist’ on one of the cruise ships in Antarctica (this continued for the next eight annual summer seasons). What better place ‘to concentrate the mind’ on ones famous relation, whose outstanding contribution to Antarctic Science and Art were so well known from his Antarctic Expeditions 100 years before. There was the added advantage that my brother David was on-board Historian so we were both able to share our passions and instigate our research into these ‘very special’ book(s).  Both David and I spent huge amounts of time researching, discussing and choosing what had to go into both the ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ and ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’. Quite often each of our own favorites came into play and many painful decisions had to be made. As requirements for pages were selected, these were forwarded to Nicholas, our highly patient publisher, who designed the pages only to then find that both David and I preferred them this, that, or yet another way. Bit by bit these books came together – new pictures were discovered, and included, or maybe just noted as to where and in whose collection they might be. It worked, and in 2004 David’s and my dream became a reality with the publication of ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’.  At last, real publicity for one of the most outstanding and important 20th Century Artist, Naturalist and Scientist, quite apart from his contribution to Antarctic Exploration, was out in the public domain. This, the first of our Uncle Ted book series, was followed in 2011 by the  ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’. Even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II kindly arranged for two of her images to be made available to us for use in the second book.
Both the ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ and ‘The Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’ were labour’s of love, each being written with particular charities in mind.  All the profits from the ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ were assigned to ‘Edward Wilson memorial projects’, and this book has and is selling well, and is currently providing useful funds for these memorial projects. The ‘Special’ edition of that book, was selected as the ‘Henry Southeran Limited Fine Books and Prints, of London, ‘The Book of 2004’’, which was particularly satisfying. As to the ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’, all the profits are going to ‘Edward Wilson Funds at the Scott Polar Research Institute’. Book sales are most encouraging and sales are progressing at a good pace and it is hoped that before long this books will also be providing the selected Edward Wilson Funds with much needed money to further those Edward Wilson younger generation science and art projects.
‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ and ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’ are available in good bookshops or at: www.antarcticbookshop.com,  www.edwardawilson.com/ or   www.wildside.i.e..
Christopher J Wilson FZS

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