Cherry : a life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

by Sara Wheeler

Hardcover, 2002




New York : Random House, c2002.


Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886-1959) was one of the youngest members of Captain Scott's final expedition to the Antarctic. Cherry undertook an epic journey in the Antarctic winter to collect the eggs of the Emperor penguin. The temperature fell to seventy below, it was dark all the time, his teeth shattered in the cold and the tent blew away. 'But we kept our tempers,' Cherry wrote, 'even with God.'After serving in the First War Cherry was in an invalided home, and with the zealous encouragement of his neighbour Bernard Shaw he wrote a masterpiece. In The Worst Journey in the World Cherry transformed tragedy and grief into something fine. But as the years unravelled he faced a terrible struggle against depression, breakdown and despair, haunted by the possibility that he could have saved Scott and his companions.This is the first biography and a brilliant one. Sara Wheeler, who has travelled extensively in the Antarctic, has had unrestricted access to new material and the full co-operation of Cherry's family.… (more)

Media reviews

Writing about the poles is not an easy task, but an audience (especially given recent interest in Scott and Shackleton) is virtually assured. Where Sara Wheeler excels in this first biography of Cherry-Garrard is in illuminating his life before and after the epoch-making polar expedition. She makes
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of his struggle to work out and write the truth about those years a narrative almost as exciting as the journey itself.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member katylit
Excellent biography of the Antarctic explorer whose life was so sad after returning from the Scott expedition. He wrote an amazing book [The Worst Journey in The World] about his experiences, but suffered severe depression on and off throughout the rest of his life.
LibraryThing member pouleroulante
the man behind the classic,The Worst Journey in The World. What this man wont do for an egg doesn't bear thinking about.
LibraryThing member vguy
Cracking good book. I'll miss him; the old curmudgeon became quite a pal. Lovely touches include her descriptions of the weather and the state of the gardens - now how did she research that? and the pen portraits of supporting cast such as GBS, the know-all even about things he didn't know, and the
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one-line, even one-word, captures, eg Lees-Milne "the feline diarist". And she is revealing about the whole State of the Nation, arrival of motor-car (fun when you had the only one), post-war Britain likened to Moscow, the decline of landed privilege (slightly sad but the privilege was arbitrary and unfair).
The scene where the brother-in -law tries to have him committed is strikingly close to an episode in the recent Blandings on TV. Wonder if Wodehouse knew about the incident. Unlikely; probably a regular occurrence in mid-century country houses.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
This was the age when everyone wanted to get to a Pole. North Pole or South Pole, it didn't matter. For Apsley Cherry-Garrard, his expedition was to the South Pole with Robert Falcon Scott (Scott's second journey).
Antarctica fueled the competitive spirits of Robert Falcon Scott and his expedition
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as they constantly compared their experiences in the Antarctic to Shackleton's and kept a close eye on reports of Amundsen's progress a short distance away. I am not going to review the events of what happened during this particular expedition as everyone is well familiar with Scott's demise. Let's focus on Cherry.
After the expedition Cherry's life was consumed by his experiences. His opinion of Scott changed several different times as the reality of what he lived through sharpened. The expedition gave him purpose in life (writing a book and lecturing about it) while haunting his sleep and stunting his ability to move on from it. Wheeler does a fantastic job painting a sympathetic portrait of a complicated man.
As an aside, I am trying to imagine the amount of gear one would take to the South Pole. It boggled my mind that Scott would ask Cherry to learn how to type and to bring two typewriters even though no one else knew how to use them.
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