Captain Scott polar expedition book won't be left out in the cold at auction

We've commented before on the value of memorabilia from explorers - including the diary of Captain Scott of the Antarctic.

Now Bonhams is set to offer a first edition presentation copy of the most celebrated book of Polar exploration ever published as part of their Polar Sale at Bonhams in London on 30 March.

This is Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World, which is estimated at £15,000-20,000. What makes it particularly valuable is that not only is it inscribed by the author to Captain Scott's widow, it also contains her handwritten and often forthright annotations.

The Worst Journey in the World was published in 1922, and this issue was given as a gift to Kathleen Hilton Young - the book is inscribed using her new name from a then recent remarriage: "Inscribed to Mrs. Hilton Young. With very grateful thanks from Cherry".

Worst journey in world polar expedition Cherry Garrard
Cherry Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World featuring Scott's polar expedition

Despite her remarriage, Hilton Young remained loyal to her Scott's memory, and protective his reputation regarding the disastrous 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 companions: Wilson, Evans, Oates and Bowers.

Cherry-Garrard was a member of the wider expedition team, supplying depots with food and fuel on the route planned for Scott's party on their return. He was present when the bodies of Scott and his companions were found in November 1912.

The title of the book was not actually inspired by Scott's expedition by Cherry-Garrard's own near-fatal polar expedition to collect eggs of the Emperor Penguin, hoping the foetuses would shed light on whether reptiles and birds had been related in their evolutionary history.

It added a great deal of insult to the injury of the expedition that on his return to Britain (much later in 1913) he found that the technique of using foetuses to give evidence for this sort of link had been discredited, and the eggs were therefore of quite limited scientific value. The expedition is described in detail in the book.

Worst journey in world inscription polar expedition Cherry Garrard
Inscription by Cherry Garrard on The Worst Journey in the World

It is his description of Scott's expedition which provokes reactions from Hilton Young, however. Describing Scott and his team as they neared 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 Hilton Young an emphatic pencilled margin note "Rots!"

Collectors fascinated by the polar expeditions will be excited to learn that we have an affectionate handwritten letter by Ernest Shackleton to his wife available for sale.

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