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British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913

British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913

British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913

George Murray LEVICK (1876-1956). Autograph journal, 29 November 1910 - 8 January 1912, in pen and occasionally pencil, small sketches of a sledge and of the 'Carusophone' alarm clock within text, two other sketches and two photographs loose, 168 pages, 4to, original calf, titled 'I' in ink on spine, gilt morocco lettering board on upper cover 'G.M. Levick Antarctic Expedition 1910', by Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Christchurch, [N.Z.] (extremities rubbed, light staining).

[And:] A collection of 74 glass negatives and 57 glass slides of photographs taken with the Northern Party, showing members of the Northern Party, ice formations, landscapes, geological and glaciological observations, and penguins, skuas and seals, negatives 83 x 107mm - 125 x 170mm (one negative broken, two spoiled) and an electrotype block, an image of the Terra Nova, 8.9 x 11.4cm.

Provenance. George Murray Levick; by descent; private collection.


The journal describes the first season of the expedition, from the Terra Nova's departure from New Zealand, the landing of the main party at Cape Evans, the re-embarkation of the Northern Party, the meeting with Amundsen at the Bay of Whales - an encounter to which Levick reacts more positively than other members of the expedition ('This has been a wonderful day ... it is going to be one of the finest races next summer that the world has ever seen') - the landing at Cape Adare, the construction of the hut and the devices and activities of the winter there (including the invention of the 'Carusophone' to wake members of the party for their two-hourly meteorological observations, contrived from a candle, a gramophone, and a record of Caruso singing the Flower Song from Carmen, 'which I guarantee to wake the dead'), to the spring and early summer spent at the hut and on sledging expeditions in the Robertson Bay area. The volume breaks off with the Northern Party's re-embarkation on the Terra Nova on its way to Evans Coves.

The party's surgeon, Levick shows particular attention to the health of the group, and the journal provides a valuable record of the effects of the polar winter and the strain of the spring sledging. In addition, perhaps surprisingly in view of his reputation for stolid good humour, Levick places considerable emphasis on the psychological state of the party and is a critical observer of the capacities and behaviour of his companions and of the emotional strains ('polar ennui') of the close quarters in which they lived.

A collection of Murray Levick's Antarctic journals is held by the Scott Polar Research Institute, comprising chiefly four volumes of rough journals and fair copies covering 9 January to 14 November 1912: three volumes are identical in size to the present one, and numbered II to IV. The present volume is almost certainly the only journal for the period in the hut on Cape Adare, though sections describing the spring sledging are copied from a sledging journal. Levick also refers to a zoological log, in which he recorded his observations of the Adélie penguins and other fauna of Cape Adare. However, the present volume completes the main sequence of Levick's diaries of Scott's Last Expedition, and covers the most substantial period of achievement of the Northern Party. It makes significant additions to the published accounts of the Northern Party by Campbell and Priestley. It is apparently unpublished and unstudied.

Levick was a skilled photographer, and his photographs were one of the most important achievements of the Northern Party: many of the present collection are familiar not only from Levick's own work on penguins, but also from Scott's Last Expedition and Raymond Priestley's Antarctic Adventure. Approximately a sixth of this collection duplicates negatives held at the Scott Polar Research Institute, but A LARGE NUMBER OF THE PLATES ARE APPARENTLY UNKNOWN IMAGES depicting Antarctic regions not visited by Herbert Ponting.

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